Street selection planning for 2018 takes surprising turn for the worst

By Karen Cornelius

The Streets, Buildings, and Grounds Committee met on Monday night, October 16, to review the rubric for street resurfacing selections for 2018. There had been months of talk about this pre-planning to have council select streets and get started earlier in the new year on bidding and repairing some streets. Then, the finance director told council of the available money, $100,000, not enough to do any streets selected by council next year.


Streets chairman Jim Forthofer opened by thanking council members for filling out the rubric with all its criteria and point system priorities. He said the city engineer had also added some of her suggestions for Main Street’s reconstruction and repairing some streets post waterline distribution replacment totaling $90,000. He then asked finance director Brian Keller for a forecast of the available revenue. Keller told council they had $100,000 to spend, but there was $330,000 of obligations to fulfill and only $100,000 of revenue. In essence, that meant that council had overspent and were $230,000 short. The spending had outreached the income.


Forthofer asked why there was only $100,000. Keller responded that council had obligated to some very costly major projects, namely, the replacement bridge over Highbridge Road, Vermilion Road repaving, and the traffic signal rehab on Liberty Avenue. They also had debt service to take care of paying off each year. He said if they spent the $100,000 the ending balance in the street levy fund would be $157,000.


After questions regarding Keller’s spread sheet on street funding analysis including levy and permissive use funds, there didn’t appear to be any extra money. The finance director told council that this was just a forecast, an estimate, and they could perhaps add new funds. Council president Steve Herron said looking at 2018 and 2019 together there appeared to be only $365,000 to work with on road improvement projects.


Chair Forthofer said they would have to make decisions as a group. “We can’t cover any streets on the proposed rubric,” he said. “The money is not there.” Council president Herron stated that in January there would be a new council and administration and they might have their own ideas. “We have to do Main Street and then look where we are,” he said. Council looking at the rubric and the money they have shows how difficult the exercise is. He suggested talking to the city engineer and the mayor about other resources. Both mayor Eileen Bulan and city engineer Lynn Miggins were absent for the meeting.


Councilman Brian Holmes asked when the addtional city income tax forgiveness money would kick in. Keller answered that they would see increases in 2018, 2019, and 2020. Streets chair Forthofer said they just can’t punt this to the next council. He said they should reconcile their dollars, find out where the holes are, how to get money, and see if there is a realistic chance of fixing streets. He asked the topic go back on November’s Streets agenda.


Councilwoman Brady warned that they have to be careful and not cut up a street like North Main Street and not fund the resurfacing. “That was a miss on our part.” She said she noticed street striping was included every year at $85,000 and this is only done every other year so they could shave that expense off although small compared to the need.


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