We are going to stick on the topic of roads where we talk about city roads more this time. And it’s going to be a one minute round, which is faster.
The roads are a major concern in Kaysville. Are you in favor of any recently discussed solutions such as bonding or road fee in order to raise additional revenue? What are the city road priorities for you. And we are starting with Katie Witt this time.
I don’t think we have any options as far as whether or not we are going to bond. We are going to need to bond. We are also, probably, going to need to have a road impact fee. We’ve just gotten to the point where the roads are in such a state that we need to take strong measures in order to address them.
Now, moving forward I think we need to do a better job maintaining them. Because roads are like laundry and dishes, they always need to be done. So, we need to have a set aside funding mechanism just for our roads. I would like to see us be able to, one way or another- I am not bought into one single way to do it, but we need to have that money set aside right off the top before we talk about anything else. We have got to set aside this X amount of dollars (whatever it’s going to take- we’ll find that out during a strategic plan how much money we need to set aside each year) in order to keep those roads up the way they are supposed to be because it saves us money in the long run.
So, I think we need to look at the LTAP that came out last year. In fact, public works has already listed which roads need to be done first. I say we follow that recommendation and keep to that schedule. We are going to need to spend about $10,000,000 over the next six years in order to get our roads up to adequate again and then after that we need to have a plan in place. So, in the next four years, we need to have something in place to start saving the money that we need in order to keep our roads at the way they need to be.
Roads probably hit the closest home for most every Kaysville citizen. It doesn’t take very long to drive on them, especially to have one of your children walking or commuting on them to know they are really important. I’ve often driven around Kaysville and noticed our sidewalks that don’t continue- that start one place and have not been enforced. We haven’t had developers that have been held to the wire to finish the sidewalk like we planned. Finish the plan like we have. Kaysville is probably going to probably have a second name of, “Where the sidewalks continually end and don’t continue”. We need to take care of that. We need to pay for this.
And I agree. We’re in a situation right now where we need money to fix the problem and we need it fast. The way we are going to do that is through bonds. Let’s get that into place. Let’s make these changes but let’s make sure we’re not having this problem in the future. What could have happened in the past is that we needed a vision to know these roads are going to need improvement. They need an active transportation plan that will grow with the community so I can bike where I want to. My children can bike where they want to. And we have a way to pay for it that is not out of an emergency fund. It is out of a planned fund that every citizen is aware of and know where that money is going. It’s going to the roads that every one of us use.
When I think about roads, I just moved from Mutton Hollow so that is my number one priority… I’m kidding. The road next to you is the one you care about the most. But it is. If you’ve ever tried to turn from Mutton Hollow onto Main Street between 5-7:00 at night, good luck.
You know what the needs are and we do need to get after them. I’m an accountant by trade. How are you going to pay for them? You either raise more revenue or you cut something else and borrow from there. So, what do you want to do? The one thing- I just have to say- again- I am just impressed with all of the candidates. I hope you are too. It’s good to have good choices. And when I think about that, though, we have to decide as a community what we want and get after it fast. We can’t leave the city roads in the disrepair that they are in.
And again, bike around with me. We’ll go on a ride. If you haven’t hit the bumps lately, you’ll feel them first hand. But think about how we are going to do it. And I know some of you, when you hear bond, that is scary because that is something for the future. But if we plan right, whatever the mechanism is when we go after it, think of the services you don’t have to cut so you don’t have to bond or get after it. We need to decide together but it needs to be done.
Randi von Bose
As we have been delving into this issue, Public Works has come and spoken to city council as well as LTAP coming and doing a report on the situation of where our roads are. If you haven’t had a chance to look at that, it was in… April? It’s online. You can find the whole LTAP report. You can find video of it at a city council meeting. It’s very good to watch that so you understand the full situation.
My take away from it is that we are where we are because we had to build a bridge. We grew too fast. We had to have a bridge. We bonded for the bridge. A bond is basically a loan. So, our loan repayment came out of our roads fund. And, so our roads did not get the maintenance because we were paying back our bridge.
To me, that is a concern and as we look at bonding in the future, I think that we do need bonding. I think that having a large amount of money upfront will minimize the damage that is done over the long term and cost us less in the long term. But I think we have to go into it with a very clear vision of how we are going to pay for it without dipping into our funds to keep the roads up.
So, this last year as we’ve heard, the council had a company come in and go through the entire city and rate every single road. And that report is what we are going to use to proceed in what direction to put priorities on the roads- which roads we need to go ahead and do some improvements on. Some roads that we need to do the gravel that everyone loves that will prolong the integrity of the road.
Another thing that we are going to be doing is going to help with the longevity of the roads is we are going to make sure that as we improve the roads, as we go through the city, that we put in those curb and gutters. The curb and gutters are so crucial because it holds that road together. It maintains the longevity of of it so that they last longer and the work we do doesn’t got to waste. And that is what it is all about is making sure that we do as much with as little as possible .
I recently had the chance to speak with a colleague who runs the road department in a municipality that is about 55,000- a little bit bigger than us. I showed him our road inventory and I showed him our public works and labor budget- excuse me- our roads and public works labor budget. And he laughed at me and said, “Well, I wouldn’t take the job”. We’re in a tough spot. We’re in an especially tough spot with roads. We are going to have to need to figure out where/how to get some more revenue.
I’ve combed through our budget. During our last budget session I combed through everything and I thought I was finding some great places where we could make some cuts. But as I really looked at our needs for roads and our needs from the LTAP report and everything that we know, we could cut our entire operating budget and not pay for the maintenance we need to get back in front of the road maintenance to keep our roads in working order.
I think I am certainly in favor of several of the options that have discussed by the city council. I think it takes a lot more investigation to find out which one is the lowest cost over time- whether it’s bonding and paid for by a fee. In particular, though, what I want to make sure that any new revenue, whether it’s a tax or a fee, that it doesn’t go into the general fund that can later be spent on something that didn’t justify it. Whatever new revenue comes in, I want to make sure it is spent on exactly what justified it to the residents.
So, how to handle the Kaysville road maintenance issue? First of all, the city just did a communication in their newsletter. I hope you read it. It was very helpful because they are starting to communicate to citizens so that we can be aware and we can share feedback and input to the council. Communication is very important to citizens so their not blind-sighted by things and then wonder why they didn’t get to provide input. I’m going to do a masters research project at the end of my degree. It’s already started. How do Kaysville citizens prefer to receive city information? And I’m excited to learn that so we can a better reach out, so you can know what is going on and you can provide input.
I studied the LTAP report as part of my policy analysis and there is no question that maintenance is cheaper than repair. So, there needs to be a treatment starting on roads even when they are new, three years out- every three years- there is a treatment, so that roads can last as long as possible. Once city that’s done something that we can learn something from because they are two or three years in is Provo with a specific fee that goes only to roads so that it’s very transparent and it is used by the city for that purpose.