3/8-cent transportation tax passes

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

City of Cassville hopes to improve streets with revenue

Voters in the city of Cassville have approved a 3/8-cent tax hike, garnering about $300,000 per year, which the city will use to improve its streets.

Unofficial results from Tuesday's election show 55 percent in favor of the tax (217 votes), and 45 percent opposed (175 votes).

Bill Shiveley, mayor of Cassville, said he is pleased voters saw the need in the city and approved the tax.

"I'm really excited about the result," he said. "I hadn't heard anything negative about it, but I'm excited about having a source of funding to work on the streets and get them up to shape."

The cost to residents would amount to 19 cents on every $50 purchase within the city, and 38 cents for a $100 purchase within the city.

Shiveley said the city has about 80 miles of streets, and 68 miles are in need of serious repair.

Steve Walensky, public works director for the city, said there was no revenue stream to be used specifically for streets, and all recent repairs have been paid for out of the general fund. Walensky said the streets and transportation fund has been allotted $119,823 for 2014, but $44,167 goes to salaries, $36,000 goes to street lighting, $15,000 goes to right-of-way maintenance, $7,500 goes to fuel, and the rest of the money is smaller itemized expenses less than $2,000 each.

Shiveley said the city has spent about $60,000 to $70,000 per year on street resurfacing, including the subdivisions and a few blocks on 15th Street, Reed Street and Chappel Street. About six to eight years ago, the city also resurfaced 1st Street and Old Exeter Road.

Last year, street resurfacing cost the city about $20 to $21 per linear foot of 2-inch asphalt spanning 22 feet wide. Shiveley said the 360,000 feet of streets needing repairs would cost the city about $7 million, a figure that does not include repairs to gutter, shoulders and water and sewer lines. Shiveley said with the passing of the tax, it will take about 25 years to resurface all the streets. At the pace of repairs before, Shiveley said it would take 100 years to do the same work because of the lack of funding.

Shiveley said the city will conduct a study of its streets to identify the most troublesome areas, then, based on a priority list, resurface streets as needed.

"We'll probably look at the streets with the most traffic and the most businesses that have issues with storm water runoff," he said. "We'll start with those and work our way out."

Shiveley said to speed up the process of resurfacing, the city has the option of presenting voters with a bond issue.

"The council will have to look at what we've got, and if they want to, they can decide to put forward a bond issue to accelerate the process and get the streets fixed quicker," he said. "We don't start collecting until October, so that's something the council can take a look at in the future."

The ballot language for the tax issue was written at no cost to the city by McLiney and Company, based in Kansas City, Mo. Shiveley said the firm agreed to do the ballot language for free on the condition that if the tax passed and the city pursues a bond issue, McLiney and Company would be named the underwriter.

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