Before the city’s deteriorating roads can reap any benefits of the 3-mill, five-year additional property tax passed by residents last month, they first must endure another winter.
That’s why city officials, including Mayor Terry Stocker, said they are hesitant to announce any specific streets that might be addressed by the tax, which will generate $318,784 annually, beginning next year, and be used exclusively for road resurfacing and maintenance projects. It will cost a homeowner with a $100,000 house $105 per year, or $8.75 per month.
Stocker added that though he and a few others — including Ed Wildes, the city’s safety-service director, and Tony Fire, 1st Ward councilman and chairman of the general-improvements committee — have been working to create a list of streets in critical condition, that list could change by the time funding becomes available.
“We’re kind of guessing,” Stocker said. “But you always get some surprises.”
Recent estimates by MS Consultants of Youngstown show the cost of resurfacing the city’s roads over the next 10 years to be somewhere between $6 million and $7 million.
The tentative prioritized list of streets draws heavily from findings outlined in last year’s roadway condition rating analysis produced by MS Consultants, said both Stocker and Fire.
The analysis showed then that 78 of the city’s asphalt streets, or 55 percent of the 142 evaluated throughout all four wards, would be in need of resurfacing within the next four years — and also that 56 percent of those 78 streets would need more immediate attention, likely within the next one to two years.
“We’re going to get out there and attack the worst streets that people see, and do what we said we’d do,” Stocker said. “We’re going to work our way backward, starting with the ‘worst of the worst.’ That’s why they voted for the levy.”
Stocker noted that most of the funds generated by the tax will be earmarked for matching funds for street-resurfacing grants, and also that the city soon plans to apply for those grants through the District 6 Public Works Integrating Committee, which works through the Eastgate Regional Council of Governments.
He said, too, that with the matching funds in hand, the city’s odds of being selected to receive a grant increase significantly. But even if it’s not chosen, the city will move ahead and “do a local resurfacing program ... with what money comes in.”
Addressing the city’s roads as quickly as possible is imperative, Stocker added, saying that it’s simply a “blessing that [the tax] passed.”
“The people who voted for it gave themselves a future,” Stocker said.
Fire agreed, and said that even though what, exactly, the city can do in terms of resurfacing depends in part on what grants it is able to receive, the tax will “help Struthers quite a bit.”
“It will improve everybody’s property values,” he said. “Everybody likes to have good roads to drive on.”
Originally published by the Youngstown Vindicator and written by Emmalee C. Torisk.