City to consider nearly $7 million referendum for road repairs
By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — On May 10 the Marshfield Common Council will vote on if it should ask voters to support a referendum, likely on the Aug. 9 primary ballot, which would give the city just more than $6.8 million over the next five years, 2017-2021, to supplement both its asphalt program for maintaining streets and its budget for reconstructing those in need.
The referendum discussion will take place at the same meeting in which the council will also vote on whether or not to approve the city’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP), a five-year financial plan that outlines the city’s priorities in capital spending. If passed, referendum dollars would be “added to the Capital Improvement Program,” said City Administrator Steve Barg.
A passed referendum would mean about an 11 percent increase in the city’s property tax rate from $9.07 to $10.07 per $1,000 of assessed home value for that five-year period.
“It’s a noteworthy increase. It would be for only a five-year period, is the intent, to try and get caught up (on road maintenance),” Barg said.
The city is looking at the August primary so that, if approved, referendum dollars could more easily fit into 2017 budget planning discussions. The November general election would take place towards the end of the city’s budget planning for 2017, though the council could decide to place the referendum on that ballot.
The existing CIP already contains about $9.1 million for asphalt resurfacing work from 2017-2021 and about $3.3 million for three road reconstruction projects in that same time frame. Those reconstructs would be on East 29th Street from South Washington Avenue to Veteran’s Parkway, East 17th Street from Maple Avenue to Peach Avenue, and Lincoln Avenue from West Fifth Street to Adler Road.
The city’s asphalt program consists of two main processes. Mill-in-place is where an existing asphalt road is ground up, reshaped, and a new 3-inch asphalt layer is placed on top of the road, Director of Public Works Dan Knoeck said. Alternately, concrete streets are patched up and then overlaid with either a 2- or 3-inch layer of asphalt.
“We just can’t afford to reconstruct streets anymore, so were putting an asphalt overlay on — we’re doing an asphalt resurfacing — when really there’s greater needs to those streets,” Knoeck said.
Of the $6.8 million in potential referendum funding, about $1.8 million would go to the city’s asphalt program, and about $5 million would allow for ten street reconstruction projects. Those reconstructions would be: Laurel Court, West Fifth Street from South Chestnut Avenue to South Oak Avenue, West Ninth Street from South Central Avenue to South Chestnut Avenue, South Chestnut Avenue from West Ninth Street to West 11th Street, East Arnold Street from North Peach Avenue to North Elm Avenue, North Broadway Avenue from West Blodgett Street to West North Street, West Blodgett Street from St Joseph Avenue to North Wood Avenue, West Cleveland Street from North Walnut Avenue to West Doege Street, West Grant Street from North Central Avenue to North Chestnut Avenue, and North Schmidt Avenue from West State Street to West Ives Street.
Knoeck said that the sections of road that could be addressed if a referendum were to pass have a “combination of needs,” potentially including underground utility work, adding a sidewalk to the street, and reconstructing the surface of the street.
“I think the council feels like we need to put this out there, and the voters have to decide,” Barg said. He later added, “Those (10) streets on there, you know, they will not happen unless this referendum is passed. Otherwise, apart from this list, they’re (the streets to be reconstructed) beyond the five-year window. They’re just not on the radar.”
Knoeck said if the referendum did not pass, the ten streets would be candidates for asphalt resurfacing instead of reconstruction, which would improve the condition of the roads but not “solve the root of the problem.”
“We’ve been behind, I think, for years. It’s fair to say. There’s work we’d like to do that we just can’t afford, and it’s a question of whether the voters see that vision or not,” Barg said.