The streets of Davis won’t be free of potholes in the upcoming year if the budget stays as it is.
The city’s transportation capital program, which provides funding for street maintenance, is full of unmet needs in the city manager’s proposed budget for 2008-2009. At a public hearing Tuesday, councilmembers discussed potential changes to the budget that would provide more funding for transportation projects.
The most notable unmet need is the lack of funding sources for the maintenance and replacement of existing infrastructure. The city manager has proposed $800,000 from the Capital Improvement Program budget for street maintenance and rehabilitation, a need that the city staff estimates would cost $2.1 million to fully cover.
Public Works department director Bob Weir said current funding levels will lead to a deterioration of the conditions of street surfaces.
“We just don’t have enough money for street maintenance,” he said.
Weir said a large part of the funding problems are due to rapidly increasing costs of construction materials. The cost of hot mix asphalt, Weir said, has jumped from $36 per ton to $80 per ton.
“When we’re trying to repave streets.… You can see what that does in terms of our ability to keep up,” Weir said.
The costs show no sign of dying down soon. Contractors are now updating their prices per ton on a weekly basis, said city engineer Bob Clark. International events are causing concern as well.
“I have concerns that this earthquake in China could further increase the cost of building supplies,” said Mayor Sue Greenwald.
And it’s not just construction costs that are causing problems for the city’s Public Works department.
“Any time we add a mile of street, the corresponding increase in gas tax is not keeping pace,“ Weir said.
Councilmembers Stephen Souza and Don Saylor both proposed the idea of taking roadway impact fees and applying them to transportation maintenance. Roadway impact fees are paid by developers to mitigate the impacts of all the traffic that new homes bring.
Currently, the balance of development impact fees in the city’s coffers is $9.5 million, with an additional $300,000 coming in annually. Souza said the city should use these funds to deal with the maintenance backlog sooner, rather than later, given the rising cost of oil and construction supplies.
Despite the funding challenges, the transportation division does have money to direct toward major projects. Officials have allocated funding for improvements on East Eighth Street, additional parking in the downtown core, pedestrian improvements on Second Street and a relocation of a pedestrian and bike crossing on F Street south of Covell Boulevard. Additionally, officials have allocated funding to replace 60 traffic signals, 5,400 street lights and 9,800 signs.
Tuesday’s meeting was the last formal public hearing on the budget. The city manager has allotted time at the next City Council meeting on June 10 to make additional changes or recommendations. A final version of the budget will be presented to the council at the June 24 meeting for adoption. The fiscal year begins July 1.
JEREMY OGUL can be reached at email@example.com. XXX