Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Friday, August 04, 2006

"Pullman looking at ways to fund street repair"

From today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
There are more streets in Pullman than there is money to maintain them.

The Pullman Public Works Department has a list of about $2.4 million in needed street repairs. About $500,000 is earmarked in 2007 for major street repairs. That’s more than the $300,000 spent in 2006, but not enough to cover every need.

One option presented to the City Council is to use part of a $2 million bond issue to tackle those streets most in need of work.

The bond is slated to appear on the ballot in the November general election. It will replace an expiring $1.98 million bond issue passed by voters in 1998. The previous bond paid for paths, sidewalks and greenways in town. Some similar projects have been proposed, although the City Council can use the bond for any kind of capital projects, City Supervisor John Sherman said.

Fixing some of the city’s aging infrastructure would be a possible use for some of the money, Sherman said.

Public Works Director Mark Workman has prioritized the list of streets in need of repair. Heavy use of the street was one criterion, he said.

Streets at the top of the list include Southeast Crestview, Southwest Crestview, Northwest Turner Drive, Northwest Terre View Drive, Northeast Maiden Lane and Northeast Monroe. There are projects on all four of the city’s hills.

“These streets I think most people would recognize have been in poor condition for some time,” Workman said.

Maiden Lane, for example, was last repaved in 1986, he said. Bus traffic has put a lot of wear and tear on the street since then.

Some other proposals include a spray pool for children at Reaney Park, an arts pavilion with restrooms in Sunnyside Park, new paths on Johnson Road and in the College Hill area, and new lights for the City Playfields.

Homeowners pay about 32 cents per $1,000 of home value for the 1998 bond, or about $48 per year for a $150,000 home.

The council is looking at two options for a replacement bond. One option would be to keep the 32-cent tax levy, which would allow the city to borrow $2.1 million at present-day interest rates.

The second option would be to keep the same debt amount as the 1998 bond issue and let property taxes drop by 2 cents per $1,000. This option would save the owner of a $150,000 home about $3 per year.

The City Council will determine which projects are included in the bond issue, but the city is taking input from the public on the various proposals. A public meeting has been scheduled for Aug. 22, Sherman said. The council will make a final decision about the bond issue on Aug. 29.

So far, fewer than 50 people have submitted any kind of comments, Sherman said. None of the public comments have supported including streets in the bond.

“If that’s what people want to see a portion spent on, they need to contact the city,” Sherman said.

Public comments can be sent by e-mail to admin@pullman-wa.gov, with “Bond Issue” in the subject line, or by mail to Mayor Glenn Johnson, 325 SE Paradise St., Pullman, WA 99163.
Okay, this is a no-brainer. STREETS COME FIRST!!! Pullman is growing and we have to support our critical infrastructure. We are already staring at deficits and big cuts in the 2007 budget. The spray pool, band shell and trails would be nice, but they are LUXURIES. The city simply can't afford them now. If we had the tax revenue from a Wal-Mart Supercenter, then that's a different story. Yet another reason for people to get up in arms and have PARD drop its idelogically-motivated appeals.

Don't count on the state for help either. Remember how the opponents of I-912 (i.e. liberals and environmentalists) last year promised all sorts of wonderful, magical things if we just let the latest 9 1/2 cent gas tax stick around? Well, the latest gas tax increase has not even taken full effect yet and the Whitman County Gazette reported yesterday that WSDOT is already short some $38 BILLION for road projects, including $70 million over budget for 2003 "nickel gas tax" projects. Who do you think will suffer most, Eastern or Western Washington? No, you can be sure we will take it in the shorts yet again, despite Whitman County voters foolishly rejecting I-912 last November.

Send in your comments NOW to the City Council telling them we need STREETS FIRST!


April E. Coggins said...

I urge everyone to participate in this decision. If you don't bother to participate, please don't complain about the condition of Pullman roads later. This is your opportunity to direct money toward badly needed road repair. We have an excellent city council in place who will listen and act.

Ray Lindquist said...

Yep Streets first, good post Tom, THX.

Uncle Bubba said...

City budgets are no different than personal budgets. A person would not go out and buy himself a new Jetboat if he were three months behind in his house mortgage yet that seems to be what some people in our city are proposing. Necessities come first ...if you have money left over you can treat yourself to a few luxuries.
Bike paths, waterfalls, parks, etc. are all niceties but at the expense of our streets and infastructure.
It's time for the City of Pullman to get down to necessary business. This time let's spend our tax dollars where they are most needed.