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Builders' leader urges NYC to restore capital projects.

Builders' leader urges NYC to restore capital projects

Noting that the city's capital plan can be a powerful tool to shape its future, Building Congress President Louis Coletti urged the City Council Finance Committee to restore nearly $1.4 billion in proposed capital budget cuts for school, bridge and highway infrastructure projects.

Testifying at the committee's recent budget hearings, Coletti emphasized he was "not advocating that the city spend dollars it doesn't have," but was proposing that the "existing budget be reorganized" to include these capital costs.

"The Mayor's proposed plan," the Congress president acknowledged, "recognizes the realities of today's fiscal environment," but the city, he said, should direct "each scarce dollar where it can do the most good." In this context, he cited the need for "schools that foster a learning environment in which today's students can acquire the skills they need to join tomorrow's work force," and "reliable bridges and highways so that businesses can depend on workers and goods getting to them on time."

He urged the committee to put back the $981 million in cuts proposed for schools and asserted that "it would be a tragedy to halt the progress of the School Construction Authority in "turning the tide of a decade-long decline in the school system's physical environment."

Coletti also suggested that the $406 million of cuts proposed for bridges and highways would invite a reprise of "the collapses and shutdowns of the 1980s." He said that "many company CEOs will tell you they are leaving New York, or not coming here, simply because they can't rely on the transportation system to get their people to work and their supplies and products to where they need them."

In his testimony, Coletti advised the city "to look to the private sector for development of public works. The private sector," he said, "has the expertise and motivation to help cities meet their pressing needs."

He noted that private funds are available for a trash-toenergy plant at the Brooklyn Navy Yard that would help alleviate the mounting solid waste disposal crisis. "With private sources offering to pay the bill," he asserted, "it is time to explore fully all the options, including any needed legislative changes for defining the appropriate role of the private sector in rebuilding New York."

Responding to a municipal union proposal made during the hearing for more "in-house work" in the areas of engineering, architecture and construction, Coletti said: "the city should be contracting out for more of its services, not less, as a way of reducing its budgetary overhead and helping the private economy.

"If you were to talk to the head of any type of public agency that has a capital budget," Coletti continued, "you'll learn that the cost of buying construction services in the current private market is anywhere from 15 percent to 25 percent less than what those agencies have budgeted for."

The Building Congress, Coletti said, "is prepared to work with the Mayor's office and the City Council to create any necessary public-private partnerships" needed for public works projects.
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Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Jun 19, 1991
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