Grover Beach residents will see their first property tax increase to pay for repaving streets in their July bills, but city officials already have expressed interest in another increase that could nearly double the assessment in 2016 and beyond.
At its meeting Monday night, the Grover Beach City Council directed city staff to pursue plans to issue a second bond to fund road improvements in 2016, adding to the $5 million in bond funds the city secured in January for a long-awaited Road Repair and Rehabilitation program.
The second bond would make it possible for the city to make more high-profile road repairs earlier — something the council highlighted as one of its main priorities for the project.
"We need an eye-catching, big project to please the people and say, 'See — we are doing something,' " Councilwoman Barbara Nicolls said Monday during a two-hour discussion.
Nicolls and other council members stressed that the piecemeal approach the city has taken to road repairs this year, combined with the slow pace of the work, has some residents complaining that little is getting done.
In November, city voters approved Measure K-14, which authorized the sale of $48 million in bonds to repair the city's 29 miles of residential streets and some major roads. At that time, an estimated 71 percent of Grover Beach's residential streets and 58 percent of its major roads were in poor or failing condition.
At its meeting Jan. 20, the City Council unanimously passed a resolution issuing the first $5 million in general obligation funds, and tentatively began the process of deciding which roads would be among the first to be fixed. The council tentatively said it would issue a new bond every three years.
After gathering community input, the city found that doing more repaving sooner would save money because fewer roads would continue to deteriorate while awaiting repairs, City Engineer Gregory Ray said.
Because of this, the City Council included more roads in the 2015 work plan with expectations to issue another $5 million or $7 million bond in 2016 to fund the next phase.
This July, taxpayers will be billed $24.43 per $100,000 of assessed property value for 2015, City Manager Bob Perrault said. If the council issues another $5 million bond, that tax would climb to $42 per $100,000 of assessed property in 2016. A $7 million bond would increase the tax to $48 to $51 per $100,000 of assessed property next year, Perrault said.
The City Council directed staff to follow up on issuing another bond and will decide later this year whether it will be for $5 million or $7 million. The bond would be issued in March 2016.
On Monday, the council officially approved a list of 13 road segments to be repaired this year — a list it tentatively approved in April.
Construction on Brighton Avenue, Nice Avenue and South Seventh Street is expected to start in two months, Ray said. The projects are out to bid, but no bids have been received yet, he said.
Construction on the other eight streets will likely not begin until December, Ray said.
The council also began the arduous process of deciding which roads it would like to update in 2016.
"We've got to figure out how to give (city staff) some direction, because otherwise we are going to be a slave to this program," Mayor John Shoals said after a two-hour discussion. "The worst thing that could happen is we get paralyzed, and nothing is going to get done. We can debate alternatives all day long, all year long, and we're still not getting anything done."
The council indicated that updating South 13th Street would give city residents a fully completed road by the end of 2016 (North 13th Street is scheduled for the 2015 phase), but also put forward Longbranch and Newport avenues as possible entire-road-overhauls.
The council tentatively decided it wanted to see improvements at seven other roads as well: North 16th Street, North Third Street, South Eighth Street, Mentone Avenue, La Selva Avenue, Encinitas Court and Pebble Street.