Hamilton takes early step toward 2019 streets levy

Members of Hamilton City Council unanimously took an early step Wednesday toward a May 2019 street repair levy.

City Council approved a resolution asking the county auditor’s office to calculate how much money would be generated by a 4.9-mill levy if approved by voters in the May 7 election. The move is a required step toward the levy.

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City Manager Joshua Smith said the levy is estimated to produce about $3.7 million per year. The city believes it would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $175 per year.

The levy would allow the city to repair up to five miles of street per year, plus maintain up to another five miles, according to the city.

That cost per property can “begin the basis of a conversation” about the levy costs and benefits, Smith said.

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“Currently, 70 percent of the city’s streets are in fair to poor condition, with 50 percent of the city’s streets rated as poor,” city Finance Director Dave Jones wrote in a report about the resolution.

Mayor Pat Moeller before the decision noted, “This is not a vote where our vote today increases taxes. This is a vote to continue the process to put it before the voters in May of 2019.”

City officials, who in 2016 discussed a possible levy in 2017, have repeatedly said they wanted to announce in advance the streets that would be paved so voters would see they had kept their word. They also emphasized the need to have an end date for the levy, with the possibility of asking voters for a follow-up levy if residents felt the city had spent money on streets well.

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City Engineer Rich Engle has previously told council: “We have streets in our city that have not been repaved in 40 years.”

The city has about 250 miles of streets if you measure based on the lengths of the “center lane,” Engle said Thursday. By another measure, it has 550 miles of lanes, because some streets have two lanes, while others have five lanes.

Once resurfaced, a street is not expected to need more resurfacing for 15 to 20 years, depending on traffic and other factors, he said.

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