The City of Laurie is doing all it can with a limited budget to keep up roads, said Public Works Director Ed Young, after another citizen attended a Board of Aldermen meeting with concerns over cracks, soft spots and potholes in city streets.
Area resident Ernie Hibdon addressed the board about the issue at its Sept. 11 meeting. City resident Russ Ousley first brought up the point at a meeting in August.
Hibdon told the board they needed to do some maintenance work now or possibly have to start all over again street pavement if it goes too much further.
Almost ten years since the initial paving, depressions, cracks and potholes mar many of the eight miles of city streets.
The roadway base and drainage are the two major problems causing issues, according to Young.
At the time the pavement was done, potential bad spots were noted, but the board at that time decided to move forward with the pavement and leave the problem spots to be resolved in the future, according to Young.
"Well, the future is now," Young said.
The longtime public works director is getting estimates on crack sealing and repairing soft spots. But, he says, it is unlikely that there will be enough in the budget to do much this year.
"We have considerably more spots to fix than the budget for this year would allow. We'll fix what we can afford, but it's going to be minimal," Young said. "We didn't budget a lot of road repair money because we just don't have a lot of road repair money."
While the city collects a 1/2-cent transportation sales tax, the bulk of that funding goes to paying off the bonds that originally financed paving city streets.
The transportation sales tax generates about $180,000. Bond principal and interest payments total $147,000 a year.
Other sources of funding for streets and street-related expenditures include a vehicle sales tax that is budgeted to bring in $5,900 this year, a gasoline tax budgeted at $24,100 and vehicle fees of $4,050. Budgeted at a total of $34,050 for the year, these sources have brought in approximately $22,390 year-to-date at the end of August.
These funding streams cover snow and ice removal as well as part of the wages and benefits of public works employees. With shrinking revenues for the general fund, the street budget has also been stretched to cover police patrol cars.
The city purchases a new police car every two years. Each car is traded in after four years and over 100,000 miles of service. The street budget has funded two cars over the last few years costing between $50,000-$60,000.
Young is asking people to be patient.
Page 2 of 2 - The transportation bonds are set to be retired in 2014, so the city will not have much funding to work with on roads until 2015. With the extent of work that will be needed, it may take a couple of years to fund improvements for all city streets, he said.
In other public works news, an early warning storm siren is having some problems.
The city got a report of the sirens going off for no reason recently. Testing showed that the siren behind Fastlane was not working. Young said they reset some of the electronics and were waiting for clear weather to test the siren.
The city's four other sirens were working properly, he said.