Proposed bond measure for road repairs advances in Grover Beach

clambert@thetribunenews.comJanuary 22, 2014 

Grover Beach residents could be asked as soon as November whether they’re willing to pay to fix the city’s rough, potholed roads.

The Grover Beach City Council voted Tuesday to move ahead with a process that could lead to the placement of a bond measure on November’s general election ballot.

The bonds would be repaid through a new property tax.

“Everybody says, ‘Fix the streets,’ and I think that’s what we need to do,” Mayor Debbie Peterson said.

But first, local officials have to know the extent of the problem. While recent estimates have pegged the cost to repair city streets at $35 million to $40 million, that number was based on an assumption that not every street in the city needs to be fully reconstructed, public works Director Greg Ray said.

To get an updated cost estimate, the council asked staff to seek proposals to update the city’s pavement management system — a database of street conditions — with a very thorough analysis of its streets. That process is expected to take three months and cost $50,000 to $70,000.

The council also authorized a request for proposals for a polling consultant to determine voter support for a bond measure, at an estimated cost of $9,000 to $12,000, and directed staff to continue researching costs and requirements of a 25-year general obligation bond measure.

“This would give us a long-term solution to deal with the problem over many years,” City Manager Bob Perrault said in an interview Wednesday.

A bond measure would need a two-thirds approval to pass, and the money can only be used for reconstruction, not maintenance.

The annual tax would be based on a property’s assessed value, not market value, but the exact cost for property owners won’t be known until city officials set a bond amount and repayment schedule.

However, a scenario presented to the council in December showed potential costs if a $35 million bond measure was issued in $5 million increments.

The first increment would add $28 per $100,000 of assessed value to property owners’ tax bills. By the time the final increment is issued, property owners would pay $136 per $100,000 of assessed value.

The average single-family home was assessed at $252,180 in the 2013-14 fiscal year, according a city finance consultant.

Several Grover Beach residents urged council members to move forward with a solution to the city’s street woes, before the cost rises even further.

“Back in 1996 this was an $18 million problem,” said Jack Hardy, a 23-year resident. “If we continue (like this) we will have gravel streets.”

He said reaching a two-thirds majority will be difficult, but added “it’s in everyone’s interest to do this, sooner rather than later.”

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