Public Works was created in 1985 by the Cattaraugus County Legislature to consolidate the operations of the Highway, Refuse, and Buildings and Grounds divisions, along with the Onoville Marina. The Commissioner of Public Works assumed the administrative supervision of these units of County government.
The lion's share of the financial and human resources in the Public Works Department is devoted to the maintenance of the 398 miles of road, 267 bridges, 274 culverts and 1,530 drainage structures under County jurisdiction. The Highway Division employs 127 full-time employees, including the Engineering Division, the Commissioner's staff and the Little Valley garage. There are a total of six highway facilities (Five Points Highway Barn was relocated to Little Valley in 2014), plus the Little Valley maintenance facility completed in July 1998.
The Department has a 2016 budget of $12.1 million for road maintenance (snowplowing, paving, surface treatment, ditching and pothole patching), plus $3.9 million for equipment replacement and maintenance. Additionally, Cattaraugus County has a Capital Projects Program of $14.645 million for major road improvement projects, along with culvert and bridge replacements/rehabs for 2016.
The Public Works Department has responsibility for the maintenance of the county-owned buildings. Cattaraugus County has five major public buildings--the county centers in Little Valley and Olean, the Pines Healthcare and Rehabilitation centers in Machias and Olean, and the Department of Public Works facility in Little Valley. There are also several satellite offices in various locations throughout the County. Public Works has a staff of 59 full and part-time employees to clean and maintain these facilities and a 2016 budget of $1.95 million.
The Public Works Department operates the Onoville Marina in the Town of South Valley. It is staffed by two full-time employees and nine seasonal workers. The Marina is a self-sufficient enterprise fund, meaning that the operating expenses are paid out of the revenues generated from dock and campground fees, and fuel sales. The 2016 Onoville Marina budget is $565,000.
The second largest operation the Public Works Department oversees, and the one the public comes into contact with, is the Refuse Division. The County operates seven transfer stations: Salamanca, Dayton, Allegany, Portville, Five Points, Conewango, and Machias. Refuse employees 12 full-time and 19 part-time individuals. In 2014, the County processed 7,599 tons of municipal solid waste and 1,720 tons of recyclable materials through its transfer stations. This figure does not include yard waste materials collected at the stations to be composted. The anticipated 2016 expenditure for the Refuse Division (includes closed Landfills) is $2.02 million with anticipated revenues from disposal fees and sale of reclaimed materials in the amount of $1,3 million. General tax levy pays the balance.
The position of Director of Weights and Measures was transferred to the Department of Public Works by legislative action in 2004 to provide the director with additional resources in terms of clerical support and physical manpower. This organizational change enhanced the Director's ability to perform the essential functions within his position. The department's 2016 Weights and Measures budget is $99,276.
Financial resources for Public Works come from a variety of sources. The largest percentage of Public Works funding is derived from the local property taxes. Other sources include one percent (1%) of the sales tax revenues, which is dedicated to maintaining the County highway system (approximately $9.7 million), and the mortgage recording tax. There is also a $5 vehicle/$10 truck registration fee that is expected to generate approximately $475,000 to be used for heavy equipment replacement. Cattaraugus County will receive state aid in the amount of $2.8 for capital improvements under the Consolidated Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS).
Cattaraugus County has also received financial assistance for bridge and road construction projects from New York State and the federal government under the Transportation Equity Act for the 21St Century (TEA-21), which was reauthorized in 2005 as the Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Future Users (SAFETEA-LU). These projects are generally phased in over several years. The amount of funding for 2016 is $835,000.