Public Works was created in 1985 by the Cattaraugus County Legislature to consolidate the operations of the Highway, Refuse, and Buildings and Grounds divisions. 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 395 miles of road, 265 bridges, 258 culverts and 1,530 drainage structures under County jurisdiction. The Highway Division employs over 110 full-time employees, including the Engineering Division. Highway and Engineering are supported by a Fleet Maintenance section, Parts Room, and administrative support specialists. There are a total of six highway facilities, with the Little Valley maintenance facility completed in July 1998 and a new Franklinville Highway Department facility in 2019.
The Department has a 2021 budget of $11.8 million for road maintenance (snowplowing, paving, surface treatment, ditching and pothole patching), plus $4.2 million for equipment replacement and maintenance. Cattaraugus County has a Capital Projects Program of $15.1 million for major road improvement projects, culvert and bridge replacements/rehabs, and buildings. The Department is also allocated an additional $2 million of funding to pave additional county roads in 2021.
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: Allegany, Conewango, Dayton, Five Points, Machias, Portville, and Salamanca. Refuse employs 10 full-time and 12 part-time individuals. The anticipated 2021 expenditure for the Refuse Division is $2.3 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 2021 Weights and Measures budget is $76,000.
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 $10.5 million), and the mortgage recording tax. There is also a $5 vehicle/$10 truck registration fee that is expected to generate approximately $515,000 to be used for heavy equipment replacement. Cattaraugus County will receive state aid in the amount of $3.4 million for capital improvements under the Consolidated Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS); and an additional $957,000 in PAVE NY funds. The County is also expected to spend $574,000 in CHIPS funding withheld by New York State from the 2020 budget year.