It appears the rainy day has arrived.
Despite the likelihood of having to dip into the city’s reserves, the Spokane Valley City Council indicated Tuesday that it would continue the current program of “curb to curb” paving of streets where sewer lines are installed.
The issue was discussed during Tuesday’s informal winter retreat, held at CenterPlace. While formal action has yet to be taken, council members said that continuing the full-width of paving makes sense.
However, the council decided to make an exception to newly implemented street standards that were passed late last year that would require 3-inch asphalt to be laid in residential areas. While the 2-inch pavement has been used throughout Spokane County’s Septic Tank Elimination Program, the new standards would cause the roads to last longer – though at a price.
According to county utilities officials, the new standards would cost $900,000 if implemented in 2010. That cost differential would likely be made up by those hooking up to the sewer system paying an extra $950 one-time cost. That would bring the cost to $6,730 over the existing $5,780 in the West Farms, South Greenacres, Corbin and Cronk areas that are set to be sewered this year.
Corbin, in particular, is a concern to council members due to its low-income status.
“I’d like to take (that extra cost) off the table so they don’t have to worry about it,” said Mayor Tom Towey.
Neil Kersten, city public works director, said that while the 3-inch asphalt is more beneficial in the long run because it lasts longer and doesn’t need to be torn out to be repaved later, the decision is really up to the council.
“It’s really a matter if you can afford it and have the funds,” he said.
Ken Thompson said that the city does – sort of. While the council didn’t budget the full-width paving for 2010 – it had been waiting for more solid numbers on the costs – there was $5.8 million in the city’s civic facilities fund that could be used for the city’s estimated $2.3 million share that would have to be paid.
Kersten said the city has the option to do nothing and simply let the county just fill in the trenches that are dug for the new sewer lines. That, however, has never been done in the history of the program and could be perceived as unfair. It also makes the streets more prone to damage.
In 2004, the Spokane Valley City Council placed a question on the ballot asking if city residents would be willing to pay extra property taxes to fund curb-to-curb paving after sewer work. The answer came back no, but the council ended up having extra revenue that year and paid for the work anyway. It’s done so ever since.
In other road-related discussion, the council members said they also favored continuing the city’s current snowplow program. Currently, the city leases a facility that houses the city’s six trucks/plows/sanders for $4,195 a month and contracts with Poe Asphalt Inc. to do the work.
Council members indicated they would prefer to keep the current arrangement and consider hiring a full-time mechanic/operator and possible purchasing the Waste Management facility, which is valued between $500,000 and $600,000. Any official action, however, would come at an upcoming meeting.
How much the city pays for snow removal, however, depends on the weather. For example, this year the bill for January was $30,000. Last year, after a series of record-breaking snowstorms, it was $600,000.
“It’s hard predicting this,” Kersten said. “Last year was a nightmare.”