The Schoharie County Board of Supervisors voted Friday to transfer $3 million in borrowed money into the county budget to pay contractors who have worked on a stalled streambank restoration project.
The move came after the county learned that the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service has decided to lift its suspension of funding for one aspect of the project — streambank work needed in the Dave Brown Mountain Tributary.
That work, County Treasurer Bill Cherry said later, represents the smallest piece of the project, and it remains unclear if the federal agency will resume funding the rest of the streambank work.
Cherry, who opposed an additional $15 million in borrowing for the project late last year, voiced concerns that the tab for the overall project could now exceed $30 million because of cost overruns.
But Schoharie Town Supervisor Chris Tague was more upbeat about the prospects of the project reaching its goal of minimizing property damage from flooding such as that unleashed by Hurricane Irene in 2011.
"Everybody involved — the state DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation), the Army Corps of Engineers, the county, McLaren Engineering, AECOM — is really collaborating and making a real effort to get this done in the best interest of the taxpayers of Schoharie County," Tague said. "I think things have moved in an extremely positive way."
Tague credited the efforts of county administrator Steve Wilson and county public works chief Dan Crandell convinced NRCS to lift the one suspension. The work has been focused on four streams: the Little Schoharie, Line Creek, Dave Brown Mountain Tributary and the Platter Kill.
Cherry said the streambank project remains "very precarious."
"The cost began began at $20 million, and the way things are going it will be north of $30 million." He predicted the local share could climb to $5 million.