Paving roads is important, but not as critical as maintaining our water, sewer and electric services, and annually, we’ve also looked at these big three as where we need to first spend our capital dollars.
—Pat Rowe, Madison Borough Councilman

Seven years ago Madison’s investment in town infrastructure hit rock bottom after surpluses generated by its utilities dropped significantly when contracts were purchased from energy suppliers selling at significantly higher prices. To address this underinvestment in capital projects, Mayor Conley held a town hall meeting on October 2012 to discuss the borough’s options, which, essentially, were presented as to (1) raise taxes and (2) acquire more debt—or some combination. 

Former Board of Education Vice President and current Borough Councilman Pat Rowe was in the audience and asked why the borough was not looking at the windfall it would experience in less than two years’ time when it switched to a new set of electric contracts that would give the borough millions more in surplus. That is, Why not return to the pay-as-you-go strategy that Madison had used successfully for many years?  Rowe’s recommendation was dismissed, but in less than a year, the borough recognized pay-as-you-go as a great way to revive not only its infrastructure needs but also to cover its growing operating costs.

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“When Rob and I served on council—Rob from 2011 to ’16; me from 2014 to present—we considered maintaining the town’s critical infrastructure as a major measure on how we would be judged by future generations,” noted Councilman Rowe. “Paving roads is important, but not as critical as maintaining our water, sewer and electric services, and annually, we’ve also looked at these big three as where we need to first spend our capital dollars. He and I have been strong supporters of allotting a reasonable amount of our utility-surplus dollars, and we’ve consistently supported approval of the capital budgets presented to council.

“While liaisons to Engineering and Public Works, Rob and I both worked on capital-project planning and process improvement, and the additional oversight we‘ve provided yielded excellent results and must be continued.”

Mayoral candidate Rob Catalanello explained further, “When it comes to investing in our borough infrastructure, our utilities must always be the highest priority. Madison residents expect their local government to provide utility services reliably every moment of every day, all year long. The borough is responsible for monitoring and maintaining the utility infrastructure and assets that deliver these crucial services. We need to audit our water supply regularly and detect major leaks so we can better control our losses. We should provide for the regular maintenance of our pumps and water treatment plants, and replace water mains and valves before they fail and cause emergencies.

“Proactively lining sewers reduces the need for major excavation work. And Madison’s electric utility recently added tie points to provide for redundancy and the ability to reroute power when needed. Just a few examples—but they show how we could prioritize our municipal capital-budget spending.

“Let’s also take steps to better protect our critical infrastructure from cyber threats. Successful cyber-attacks on municipalities have occurred nationwide. To protect the physical security of our utilities, we must take immediate measures to bolster cybersecurity for the critical assets so responsible for our town’s safety and smooth daily operations.””

Candidate Kathy Dailey, who is serving her second year of a three-year term on the Madison Utility Advisory Committee, stated, “Nearly all of my professional experience for the last twenty-eight years has been in the utilities industry—first in operations management roles; later in policy development, government affairs, and legal and regulatory support. I know firsthand that discussing power, water, sewer, communications, and gas isn’t very glamorous, but I also understand how truly essential utilities are to the functioning of populous communities like ours. If there is a problem with water quality or water pressure in a service area, or if a sewage treatment facility fails, those incidents pose real health and safety risks to a community.”

 “We three have always taken a long-term view of Madison’s finances and its critical infrastructure needs,” summarized Rowe. “And over time, the things we’ve projected regarding the utilities' ability to fund our needs and to provide relief for our residents have come true, despite any naysayers claiming otherwise.  If I am re-elected, and Rob and Kathy join me as members of the governing body, we pledge to continue to leverage our many years of experience in management, and with overseeing budgets and large projects, to benefit the entire community and keep Madison a desirable and affordable place to live.”

Please visit the Catalanello for Mayor website at www.robformadison.com and the Rowe/Dailey website at www.Madison2019.com for more information about their campaigns.  And follow them on Facebook @Rob4MadisonMayor and @VoteForRoweDailey to find out when they’ll be out and about meeting voters.