So we now have a plan to completely maintain water and sewer infrastructure into the future. The pieces haven’t been finalized, but we know what needs to be done.
So let’s move on to the other elephant in the room. What is it going to take to get our roads properly paved? In 2015, I asked Public Works to upgrade the listing of road conditions and then to estimate the cost of returning our roads to proper paving standards. The estimated cost is $161,993,629.00.
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. If you look at $162 million, you could easily just sit down and give up. “We’ll never get there.” If we are going to get serious about paving, the key is to break this down into realistic pieces that would move us forward towards catching up on years of neglected paving.
If you want paving completed in 10 years, then we need to spend $16 million a year in paving and I’m going to have to raise taxes, assess stuff, raise fees, and hit everyone hard.
I told you I didn’t believe in that approach, so I approached this another way. “How could I break this into pieces that significantly moved us forward with paving without taxing the residents further for the process?” Here’s what I came up with:
Total Repaving Cost: $161,993,629.
We estimate that 15% of the total cost can be covered through state and federal grants for state routes, etc., (Route 4, 73, 122, etc.). That equates to $24,299,044 covered by grants.
I estimate that we will complete $5 million in paving between now and 2020 (Remember, this is a five year plan). We have Central Avenue, Yankee Road and Oxford State Road projects already on the books for 2016-2017. We will also do some local paving during that period and it seems reasonable that we can complete $5 million during the next few years.
Back in the water and sewer plan, remember that we have $25 million in paving being completed as part of replacing old water and sewer pipes.
Backing all of that out leaves us a new balance of $107,694,585. Put us on a 30 year program to get caught up and we need $3,589,819 per year, every year, to move forward.
I’m sure some of you are groaning that it takes 30 year to catch up? Well, look at it this way. First, as we lay this out over future posts, you’ll see that I’m not asking you for most of the money, I have other plans to get it. Second, if we go from doing almost no paving to completing $ 4 million a year in new paving between the water/sewer projects and this new $3.5 million, and we can sustain it each year into the future, we are way ahead of where we are now.
So… to that $3.6 million (rounded up) for annual paving, I added $100,000 for park renovations, $100,000 for neighborhood improvements, and $50,000 for trees, beautification, wayfinding signage, etc., annually. That brings the yearly total needed up to $3,834,819.
We need that each year, every year, in new revenues, to be able to accomplish paving, park renovations, neighborhood improvements and beautification in a sustainable fashion every year moving forward.
We now have a real number to hit. Now the question becomes, how do I raise city revenues by $3.8 million over current collections without taxing our residents? Hang with me… and I’ll show you how we get there, piece by piece. I think when you see it all, you’ll believe that it is realistic to hit that number by 2020.
Finally, if we can pull this off, I firmly recommend we reinstate the charter provision requiring capital expenditures on infrastructure that was repealed in the 1980’s. If we can get back on track, let’s make sure we can never undo it again.