The City Council this week approved the sale of a $9.9-million bond issue to pay for repairs to damaged sidewalks, curbs and gutters and to upgrade street lighting throughout the city.
The resolution passed by the council on Monday orders the formation of a public works maintenance and improvement district to make the necessary modifications and repairs on about 200,000 square feet of sidewalks and about 2,500 street lights within three years.
The action came in response to a survey conducted by the city last year that showed that residents were not satisfied with the city's street lighting or the maintenance of curbs, sidewalks and gutters.
Terry James, public services director, said earlier that at current tax levels, it would have taken about 70 years to clear up the city's backlog of repairs.
City Manager Kevin Murphy said the bond issue will be funded by increasing the citywide assessments that are now levied on property owners to pay for landscaping and lighting. Under the resolution, assessments for single-family homes will remain at roughly the current $38.45 for the next fiscal year and then rise by a maximum of 5% a year for the next 12 years. The assessment is expected to fall sharply in the last two years of the 15-year bond program.
Assessments for apartments and commercial stores will also rise about 5% annually after the next fiscal year.
The council passed the resolution after a hearing during which six people spoke in favor of the measure and several others spoke against it. Murphy said a brochure outlining the plans and announcing the hearing was mailed to property owners in March.
"Given the fact that we sent out 17,000 notices, we had really very few people that were opposed to it," Murphy said.
The council modified the original resolution by adding a clause that will allow residents of different neighborhoods to decide whether they want their light posts replaced or upgraded. Murphy said that some residents had expressed a preference for the old-style cast iron or concrete light posts over newer concrete posts.
Murphy said that about 1,500 of the city's 4,000 light posts have already been modified to use high-pressure sodium vapor light instead of incandescent or mercury vapor light. Murphy said that the sodium vapor fixtures produce more light while using the same amount of power, and that the city now plans to modify the rest of the lights.