Tax levy for Hamilton road repairs? Not until these key details finalized

Residents and their shock absorbers have been groaning for years about the condition of Hamilton’s streets, but it likely will be May of 2019, at the earliest, before the city seeks a levy from voters to repair and repave the roadways.

City Manager Joshua Smith told the Journal-News: “If there’s going to be any type of levy request, it’ll probably be next May — May of ‘19.”

Officials had discussed the possibility of a levy in 2017, and this year.


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Part of the reason for the delay is similar to earlier decisions to push back the ballot request: City employees can’t operate a levy campaign, and city leaders want to give the volunteers who will do so enough time to do the necessary work.

Another reason: Officials want to develop plans for how long the levy will last, and what it will accomplish.

Not everybody is pleased with the delay.

“That is unacceptable,” says resident Jennifer Colwell. “If they are just going to start the process of getting a street levy approved in 2019, who knows when the repairs will actually begin. We shouldn’t have to wait that long. Who knows how bad (roads) will be by then.”

In early 2016, the Journal-News reported that half of Hamilton’s streets were listed in poor shape, with another 30 percent categorized as fair.

Council member Carla Fiehrer said this about the possible 2019 ballot request: “In regards to the possibility of a street levy, I believe Vision 2020 is gathering all the information and taking the lead on any kind of street levy campaign. I personally wish to allow them sufficient time to pull things together and then offer my comments.”

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City leaders in early 2016 said they were leaning toward a 3-mill tax levy request to voters that would last five years, with plans to seek another levy after that, when resident have seen the program’s success.

Mayor Pat Moeller and others consider the paving and repairs a big concern for Hamiltonians.

“From residents, I hear a need to fix our streets, whether it is pothole repair or paving,” Moeller said.

“Regarding the possibility of a levy, I believe our residents would like to know the potential duration of a street levy and what streets would be designated for repair with levy dollars,” Moeller said. “The comments from our residents that I have heard are focused on those issues.”

“The Vision leaders are investigating the pros and cons of a levy and types of levies,” Moeller said. “As Carla stated, we will have the opportunity to hear from them. Any other comment from council at this time would be premature.”

Colwell, who said she loves Hamilton, said street repair should be a higher priority.

“I think that it is completely ridiculous that the streets are this bad,” she said. “We have to weave around so many that it appears like we are playing dodgeball or that we may be impaired. The suspension on my vehicle will have to be replaced a lot sooner than it needs to be due to these hazardous road conditions, which is a huge expense.”

In the meantime, Smith recommended using Hamilton’s new 311 app that people can use from their smartphones or computers. It allows them to attach photos of potholes or any other issue they want to report to the city. For those without the computer application, they can call the city at 513-785-7550.

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Don’t get resident Tracy Money started about the alley potholes.

“I guess potholes in alleys don’t count because I have reported one in our alley about three times and it’s still not fixed,” Money said.

“I noticed that they fixed a lot around Hamilton but they also pass some potholes that I know they have to see when they fixed the other ones, but they just leave it they don’t fix it, I guess because nobody’s complained,” Money said. “That’s what gets me: You’ll fix one and drive over one and not fix it. What’s with that?”

Colwell is critical of the street conditions, in part because she wants Hamilton to thrive: “I love our city and living here but as we move forward with the revitalization of our city I think the conditions of our streets should be a top priority,” she said. “If we want people to come here and experience our city and enjoy what Hamilton has to offer, that is.”

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