This is an opinion letter submitted by Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick. It was not written by The Ithaca Voice. To submit opinion pieces, email Managing Editor Kelsey O’Connor at koconnor@ithacavoice.com.

We deserve better streets.  Potholes are a danger to pedestrians, and a hazard to cars.  One of the reasons we don’t have better streets is because New York State is using a 37-year-old reimbursement formula to pay back cities that maintain state-owned roads.

The reimbursement rate to local governments to cover the costs of upkeep has not been increased since 1987. Currently, the state sends 85 cents per square yard of roadways to the municipality maintaining state designated roads.

For over the past 30 years, the amount of money that cities have received has been far below what we expend. Keeping our state moving requires significant investment in routine upgrades and maintenance to ensure that our roads, bridges, and water infrastructure are fully operational.

In New York, we know that harsh winters take a toll on our basic infrastructure, leaving broken pipes and potholes in its wake. But maintaining basic infrastructure is one of the primary and most important responsibilities of government at every level. Without safe and reliable roadways, commerce and community across the Empire State would shudder to a halt.

To secure local governments’ fair share of resources, we’re urging the State Legislature to support a proposal that would provide an inflationary adjustment to this reimbursement.

This proposal would increase payments to $1.87 per square yard, which is actually a money-saving proposition. Having the state come in to take over maintenance of these roadways would be far more expensive.

Any New Yorker asked to do a 2019 job with a 1987 budget would face the same issue as many cities in New York do today when it comes to maintaining these roadways.

And local taxpayers are picking up the bill, as a result. In Ithaca, for example, local taxpayers are losing out on $155,000 each year the agreement remains out of date. That is money that could fund one police officer, three youth workers, or a full one percent reduction in property taxes.

This is a prime example of a shared service agreement between cities and the state, except the state needs to be a true partner in this effort.  This is an incredibly small investment to make in our infrastructure, and it has the added benefit of keeping costs off the backs of local taxpayers, creating efficiency.


Svante Myrick

Mayor, City of Ithaca

Nily Rozic

Assemblywoman, Queens