$500K More For Streets

Anyone who drives a car in Warren County knows all about the rampant case of potholes that has plagued the county.

Warren City Council sees it too.

To those ends, council dedicated slightly more than an additional $500,000 to paving projects in 2014 during its meeting on Monday night.

Department of Public Works Director Mike Holtz told council that staff has been trying to prioritize the streets in the most need and put forth “25 blocks that council could consider for mill and overlay.”

“This was a winter for the record and we have several needs,” Holtz said. “I realize it is a big request, but it is needed.”

In addition to the 25 blocks listed in a companion story, an additional $50,000 will be utilized for strip patching throughout the city. Strip patching takes place where there is a series of potholes and it doesn’t rise to the need of a full overlay, and a strip of patching takes care of them.

Holtz said the work could start in as little as a week or two, but he acknowledged that the work will take time and it is possible that some of the streets will not be repaired until June, July or August. He said the city would work “to get down the list as quick as possible” but that the work is “not going to happen overnight.”

“We will not leave Fourth (Avenue) and Morrison (Street) like that until the end of summer,” he noted, indicating a preference to remove the defunct railroad ties under the roadway before resurfacing.

Councilman Sam Harvey asked what was originally budgeted for paving in 2014.

City Manager Nancy Freenock said the entirety of Monday’s request is “supplemental.”

Holtz explained that the city has been using its liquid fuels money from the state, approximately $200,000, for paving exclusively over the last two to three years. Before that, he said, the city spent approximately $450,000 per year.

“For this year’s budget, it is $200,000,” he said.

But Freenock explained that the city ended fiscal year 2013 with a much higher fund balance than anticipated $2.5 million instead of $1.5 million, primarily due to a lack of capital expenditures in 2013.

She said $500,000 of that balance would be needed to balance the 2014 budget with an additional $331,000 to be placed in reserve. “We have $700,000 we didn’t expect to have,” she said, proposing that $514,000 of that be dedicated to paving.

Harvey argued that a portion of that funding should be used to pay off the city’s highest interest debt, but a motion he made to that effect failed for lack of a second.

The paving proposal passed 6-1 with Harvey dissenting.