Hamilton official: ‘We get beat up all the time about the streets’

City meets this month to consider 2017 levy to fix ‘decaying’ roads.

City Council’s Finance Committee will meet Oct. 28 to discuss a possible 2017 tax levy to improve the city’s streets.

The Journal-News in March reported that half of Hamilton’s streets are rated in poor shape, with another 30 percent listed as fair.

“We need to get ahead of the game with our streets that are basically decaying,” said Council Member Robert Brown. “… we get beat up all the time about the streets.”

Hamilton typically spends between $2 million and $2.5 million annually to repave streets, including concrete curbs, storm-sewer improvements and other related work, which corresponds to 3 to 3.5 miles of streets, Public Works Director Rich Engle has said.

The city has 254 center-line miles of streets, some of which haven’t been paved in four decades. A repaving is expected to last 15 to 20 years.

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Staff video by Mike Rutledge.

Officials have not decided on a levy amount. With a 3-mill levy, which rough estimates say could generate almost $2.3 million yearly, “we could probably do on the order of six miles of asphalt,” Engle told council members in March.

Council members earlier this year seemed to reach consensus that whenever they go for a levy, it should be for a limited number of years, such as five, so voters can see the progress that is made, and if they are pleased with the results, they will be open to renewing the levy for another period of time.

In 2010, council approved a resolution requiring city crews to use cameras to record the condition of sewer and water pipes, and other infrastructure beneath the roads, Brown said, “because the last thing you want to do is once you start putting your asphalt on top of something that’s bad ….”

Nobody wants to see construction crews tear into a newly paved roadway, he noted.

“If we had $100 million, we could pave every street in the city that hasn’t been done for 15, 20 years,” he said. “Two million dollars doesn’t get that far.”

“The people in this town want good streets, and we’ve heard it for years after years, so if they want it, and as long as we keep it reasonable — because I haven’t seen the numbers yet (of what amounts may be sought) — then, that’s great, because the citizens deserve better streets,” Brown added.

On the other hand, “I just want to make sure that it’s reasonable for a levy, meaning that it’s not going to gouge anybody, because there’s a lot of people who are over 60, 70, 80 years old, and it’s every day just a battle to get their medicines and things like that,” Brown said.

Timothy Naab, chairman of the finance committee, was not available for comment.

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