Hartford debates use of highway funds

Hartford debates use of highway funds

By Jay Mullen

Hartford highway superintendent Greg Brown voiced his displeasure with the tentative Hartford budget for 2021 during a Town Board meeting on Sept. 8.

His concern had to do with the amount of money being budgeted for the celebrations fund, which is used for events such as parades, the town-wide garage sale and for the flags that are put around the town and on the graves of veterans in the cemetery.

“If we can’t have money for equipment why are we spending this kind of money on something that’s not essential?” Brown asked the board.

Town Supervisor Dana Haff said he believes the only way to grow the economic development of the town is invest in things like parades. He said that in order to have fewer abandoned or foreclosed houses people need to think of Hartford in a positive light.

“If someone says Hartford, New York, they go, ‘oh I was there last year at the garage sale and it was a really nice town,’” Haff said. “When people think of the town of Hartford I want them to think of it with a positive attitude.”

He went on to say that the highway department is the largest part of the tax levy in the tentative 2021 budget.

Hartford Town Supervisor Dana Haff

Brown said that he isn’t asking for the money.

“We didn’t ask for that money we’re just saying we can’t have any money for equipment. We just feel that it’s not essential to have it,” he said.

Haff agreed that the parades and other events aren’t an essential thing to have. He said that it is a desire to have them.

Councilwoman Jennifer Perez said she understands Brown’s point completely, but she also agrees with Haff.

It made her emotional to talk about it.

“The things that we as a country have done without this year that were out of our control, and yet we had the town-wide garage sale,” Perez said, holding back tears. “I think that did a lot for a lot of people.”

Councilman Keith Harrington also sees both sides of the situation.

He said that prior to being elected to his position he was told that you need to take care of the highway department because if the roads aren’t taken care of you will hear about it.

But public events are important to him as well, he said.

“I was devastated that we didn’t have the parade this year,” Harrington said. “I always call it my favorite day of the year.”

Councilwoman Barbara Beecher said that the solution to the equipment problem would be to finance anything that is needed by the department. She said they would not be able to purchase anything outright anyway.

After the discussion Haff made a motion to accept the tentative budget as the preliminary budget, which councilman Gary Burch Sr. seconded. The motion passed, 5-0.

Haff then made a motion to set a public hearing about the preliminary budget for Tuesday, Oct. 13, which Harrington seconded. The motion passed 5-0.

“After that public hearing whatever happens hopefully we will have a final adopted budget,” Haff said.