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Street Repairs

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Vivian Moon View Drop Down
MUSA Council
MUSA Council


Joined: May 16 2008
Location: Middletown, Ohi
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vivian Moon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Street Repairs
    Posted: Mar 24 2015 at 5:46pm

Posted: 5:05 p.m. Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Cities struggle to fund street repairs

By Lawrence Budd

Staff Writer

    Drivers are stuck between a pothole and a hard place as communities wrestle with a growing problem of how to pay for street repairs.

Local cities have made a patchwork of different decisions over how to pay for basic road upkeep and one Warren County city is among those unable to settle on a stable source of money.

    Lebanon City Council recently restarted discussions of how to fill in an annual estimated $1.5 million deficit between street repair needs and funds on hand.

    Some council members blame the depth of the problem on inaction dating back more than a decade.

“Council has not been willing in the majority to do anything,” said Jim Norris, in his fourth four-year term on Lebanon City Council.“It’s as bad as I’ve ever seen them.”

National problem

    Finding money for repaving is a national problem, according to the National League of Cities.

    For the first time since 2008, cities responding to the organization’s 2014 survey indicated they were rebounding from the recession and rebuilding their work forces as property and income taxes grew. Still local leaders remained concerned about their inability to pay for basic road repairs.

    “We’re seeing this economic recovery, but they all cited infrastructure needs as having a negative impact on their city budgets,” said Nicole Dupuis, a senior associate for city solutions and applied research with the National League of Cities. “That’s one of things that is holding back local budgets from full recovery.”

    The National Highway Trust Fund’s solvency is in question, leaving state and local policy makers to find money for the repairs, although they are less high-profile than new roads or economic development, Dupuis said.

    “Projects like that don’t generate a lot of excitement, but are really important,” she said.

    Cities have turned to user fees, tolls and public-private partnerships to offset road repair costs.

    “Ballot measures have increased year by year,” she added.

    Madison Twp. voters passed its road levy by 2 votes in November 2014, and it is believed to be the first roads-specific levy in Butler County. Some of the past levies around Butler County allotted for only some of those tax dollars to be spent on road and street repairs and maintenance.

    Franklin voters increased to 2 percent the income tax paid by people working in the city, in part to help keep up on street repairs.

    City officials note that the danger of getting behind on basic road upkeep is that problems just mount with every winter and it can take years to catch up

    Local money for roads typically comes from either income taxes, property levies or a combination of the two.

    But since 2002 Lebanon voters have rejected four different proposals to raise money for road work: two income-tax plans, and two proposed street levies.

    Meanwhile, a $1.5 million annual deficit has developed between needs and funds available, according to an analysis by City Manager Pat Clements presented to the council last May.

    For several months, the council discussed seeking a road levy or income tax increase, or reducing the local income-tax credit, but has not mustered enough votes for action.

    Lebanon has budgeted $680,0000 for road repairs this year. Its council recently again discussed how to get more money for road work, analyzing the budget for potential cuts, and weighing options ranging from seeking an additional tax levy to reducing the credit on earnings by residents who work outside the city.

Repaving plans

    Monroe is among cities that draw on different general fund sources to pay for repaving and other street maintenance.

    Monroe budgeted $1.1 million this and last year for local repaving, according to City Manager Bill Brock.

    This funding was allocated after years when road repairs were put off while the city dealt with fiscal emergency and the economic downturn, according to Brock.

    “We deferred some maintenance, but overall, we have kept up with our needs,” he said.

    Most of Monroe’s road-repair money comes from the general fund, which is supported from a city 1.5 percent income tax.

    Several towns raise money by reducing the ‘credit’ they give residents who pay income taxes to other communities where they work.

    Those credits are often full, so that a resident of one town who works in another pays only the higher of the two local income tax rates. Reducing a credit means that a worker pays a full local income tax to the town where they work, then a little more to the town where they live.

    Other communities use annual shares of the state taxes on gasoline and motor vehicle licenses to pay for road repairs.

    The city of Hamilton budgets $2.25 million to repave about 3 miles of its 250 centerline miles each year, and according to Public Works Director Richard Engle, it would cost about $100 million to bring every road in the city up to a “fair” condition this year.

    Just more than $1 million of that funding comes from state grant sources, including the Ohio Public Works Commission and Community Development Block Grant funds. About $700,000 is budgeted in the city’s infrastructure renewal fund — whose funds stem from customer utility fees and taxes from special license plates and electric usage — $200,000 comes from the stormwater fund, which is used solely to repair and replace curbs associated with catch basins, and about $300,00 is assessed to the property owner whose street is being repaired for sidewalk and curb replacement.

    In Middletown, “one mil of city property tax goes for capital improvements,” city manager Doug Adkins told the Journal-News in December. This equaled about $620,000 for 2014.

    The city’s charter was amended by voters in 1986 that required half of the 1.5 percent earned income tax revenues be allocated for streets and infrastructure to avoid a budget deficit in 1987 and in 1988. Some think this might be something to revisit as a way to raise more revenue. In his presentation during his job interview last summer, Adkins suggested by 2018 that council consider the charter amendment to require capital expenditures annually.

    The city also receives federal Community Development Block Grant through Butler County as well as General Fund revenues from the generation of city income tax. The city also has outside funding sources for road improvements include Ohio Public Works Commission grants, federal infrastructure grants through the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments, and the Ohio Department of Transportation’s Urban Paving Program for state routes.

    In 2014, the city received about $2.2 million in auto and gas tax funds are used street maintenance, which includes labor, material, and equipment costs for the street maintenance crew, he said. Add in the outside and grant funding that total grows to about $4.2 million for road improvements in 2014.

This article contains previous reporting by staff writers Vivienne Machi and Ed Richter.

 

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VietVet View Drop Down
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Joined: May 15 2008
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote VietVet Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Mar 25 2015 at 6:14am
Is this article the beginning sales pitch to ask the voters to raise taxes to fix the streets in these communities? Seems to follow a pattern where they "break it to us gently" as to need shortly before they bring out the snake oil presentation.

"The city’s charter was amended by voters in 1986 that required half of the 1.5 percent earned income tax revenues be allocated for streets and infrastructure to avoid a budget deficit in 1987 and in 1988"

And after the 87-88 budget deficit issues were solved, why didn't the city ask the voters to return the money to it's original fund for the streets? That is the problem and has been since the mid 80's.
I'm so proud of my hometown and what it has become. Recall 'em all. Let's start over.
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Alien View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Alien Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Mar 26 2015 at 12:57pm
The real problem with funding street repairs is that in all levels of government - Township, City, County, State, & Federal - their money is spent on people instead of infrastructure maintenance. Too many staffers with little or no private sector (real world)experience, making too much money with retirement plans that are too rich.

When budgets gets tight it is easier to cut road repair budgets than to reduce staff. Never gonna change!
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Vivian Moon View Drop Down
MUSA Council
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Joined: May 16 2008
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vivian Moon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Mar 26 2015 at 2:49pm
Alien..you have hit the nail on the head
They are out of control with spending
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