November 6, 2017 9:52:00 AM
Aldermen will consider a $7.5 million bond issue on Tuesday to fund a four-year infrastructure program to address road, drainage, sidewalk and other needs throughout the city.
City Engineer Edward Kemp presented the plan, which he said has been in the works for about three months, during Friday's work session in City Hall.
Much of the funding, Kemp said, will be dedicated to street overlay projects. The proposed program calls for $1 million in street overlay work for year, or $4 million through the life of the project. That accounts for 56 percent of the projected spending.
Street overlay projects are split into five priority levels, with priority 1 level projects being those needing the most immediate work, and priority 5 being those that can wait the longest.
The program also includes funding for roadway improvement and planning projects. Kemp said those projects go beyond roadway repair work and include improvements such as signalization or widening. The program calls for a projected $1.69 million in roadway improvement work, or 26 percent of the bond issue.
Kemp said the project, if funding is approved Tuesday, will be the first major infrastructure program of its kind since 2009 or 2010. He said the funding will allow the city to complete more work than the 1 to 1.5 miles it averaged during the last board term.
"If we spend $1 million per year, we would be able to complete approximately 20 miles (over four years), and I do think that is somewhat of a conservative estimate based on an asphalt unit price of $105 per ton," Kemp said. "I think if we're able to do projects of this magnitude, we may be able to get an even more competitive asphalt price and increase, ultimately, the amount of miles we're able to complete per year."
Kemp said Starkville has 150 to 160 miles of road.
Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver said he supports the project and that he frequently gets calls from constituents about road problems.
"I think it's gotten to the point where that's the number one complaint," he said.
The program also calls for $400,000 for sidewalk projects, $410,000 for parks and recreation parking lot improvements, $400,000 in drainage improvement projects and $300,000 to be made available as local matches for grant funding.
Mayor Lynn Spruill said the city is considering a 10-year or 12-year repayment period for the bonds. She said the city can repay them from its general fund without raising taxes.
"I think we should always have an ongoing capital improvement program," Spruill said. "It's one of those things you just do and you plan for. We're going to do 20 miles over the next four years and we're going to do five miles every year instead of one mile every year. We've got too much going on not to pay attention to our assets, and that's what we're talking about -- maintaining your assets."
Spruill said she also supports the idea of the city dedicating some of its funding every year to capital improvement projects.
"It makes fiscal management sense," she said. "That way it allows us to build up and never get behind the 8-ball, if you will or behind in maintaining our assets. We need to be planning ahead and make it so that ever year we're doing something of substance to our assets."
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