Council discusses possible street maintenance fee, street repairs
By BRITTANY FHOLER
The Copperas Cove City Council discussed at length a street maintenance fee to be added on to residents’ utility bills as well as a proposed plan for street maintenance and repairs during their workshop Tuesday.
Interim City Manager Ryan Haverlah presented city council with information about a street maintenance fee and recommendations from a Transportation Work Group on tackling needed street maintenance and repair projects.
The fee would be a regularly assessed monthly fee added to a resident’s utility bill, collected from residents, business owners and institutions. The revenue from the fee would be dedicated to maintaining streets.
The Street Improvement Plan would be designed to improve street conditions through reconstruction, rehabilitation, systematic planned street maintenance, sidewalk improvements and policy changes, all of which were discussed in the work group, Haverlah said.
Other cities that have implemented a street maintenance fee include Austin, College Station, Bryan, Taylor and Killeen. Killeen’s fee is $1 per single family residential and $0.57 per unit for multifamily residential, while the fee for commercial use is based on a trip rate per square foot, with the lowest being $0.13 for a museum and the highest being $19.8 for a 24-hour convenience store. The fee in Killeen has not been implemented yet and will be implemented in June.
The residential fee is typically a flat fee for single family homes and a different fee for multifamily, based on units.
For commercial or non-residential, the fee is determined through a trip generation fee established by the Institute of Transportation Engineers Trip Generation Manual. The manual proposes 129 non-residential land use categories.
The presentation had several slides that demonstrated how a street maintenance fee would be calculated using the trip generation fee. For a single-family residential unit, the recommendation is a flat fee of $3. For a duplex, it would be $3 per unit.
For a residential property with multiple residents, such as an assisted living facility, the recommendation is to base it on the number of beds at the facility times the ITE trip generator rate, which is developed by the amount of traffic or vehicles that go to the facility. The trip generation rate is $0.22, which multiplied by a facility with 50 beds would equal $11.
Looking at industrial (light), industrial (warehousing) and lodging, the total square footage of the building’s floor area is divided by 1,000, similar to how the city’s water rate is calculated, and then multiplied by the ITE trip generator rate.
For an industrial (light) building, with a trip generation rate of $0.97, the total obligation would be $1.94 for a 2,000 square foot floor area.
For warehousing, with a trip generation rate of $0.32, the obligation would be $0.96 for 3,000 square feet of floor area.
For lodging, the rate is calculated similarly to assisted living- going by number of rooms multiplied by a trip generator rate. The example on the slide had the rate as $0.60 times 75 rooms equaling a total obligation of $45.
Other examples in the slides included a movie theater, a daycare, a medical clinic, a supermarket and more.
For a movie theater with a total square footage of 41,850 and a trip generator rate of $4.91, the total obligation was calculated at $205.48. For a daycare with 2,976 total square feet and a trip generator of $12.46, the total obligation was calculated at $37.08. For a medical clinic with 13,760 square feet and a trip generator rate of $5.18, the total obligation was calculated at $71.28. A supermarket with 122,114 square feet of floor area and a trip generator rate of $8.34 has a total obligation of $1,018.43.
The city will have flexibility to tweak and adjust the trip generator rate, Haverlah said.
Haverlah also discussed resources and uses associated with the maintenance, including the cost of the repairs and upkeep.
With a bond issuance of $8.9 million for reconstruction projects in the city’s Capital Improvement Plan, the street maintenance fee would have to make up $1.9 million for all the proposed projects. The bond covers projects reconstructing roadways completely because they have gone beyond repair, such as Pecan Cove.
“Overall within the next five years, we need to spend over $10 million on roadways, and that’s $10 million with the condition of the roadways today,” Haverlah said.
If a street maintenance fee were implemented, the yearly amount raised would be approximately $400,000, Haverlah said.
Presently, 1/8-cent of the city’s 2 cents of sales tax is earmarked for street maintenance as approved by voters in 2016. This generates about $450,000 a year but so far has not been spent, Haverlah said. The cost for personnel to maintain the roads would be approximately $185,000, with the material to level up potholes at $15,000.
“Investing about a million dollars a year into our roadway maintenance would help us not only prolong the life of our roadways but would also potentially help us not have to issue bonds for large expensive reconstruction projects,” Haverlah said.
Haverlah broke down the city into four quadrants and showed council members slides of streets in each quadrant, complete with each street’s PCI Index score, traffic count, maintenance type and estimated cost.
Quadrant 1, north of the railroad tracks and east of North FM 116, with 13 streets including N. Main St and E. Ave B, has a total estimated cost of maintenance/repairs of $631,166, which would be covered by street maintenance fees.
Quadrant 2, north of the railroad tracks and west of North F.M. 116, has only seven streets, including Bonnie Lane and North 17th Street with a total estimated cost of $789,284.67, of which street maintenance fees would cover only $76,173.56, with the rest being covered by the bond issuance.
Quadrant 3, south of the railroad tracks and west of F.M. 116, includes 14 streets including Pecan Cove, Grimes Crossing, Ogletree Pass, Oak Hill Dr/Deer Flats, Freedom Lane, Meggs and Park Avenue, with the total estimated cost of maintenance and repairs of $8.3 million, with the proposed street maintenance fee only covering $82,763.11 and the bond issuance covering the rest. Quadrant 3 has the worst roadways, mostly due to the fact that many roadways were previously in the county and therefore not constructed to city standards, Haverlah said.
Quadrant 4, south of the railroad tracks and east of F.M. 116,, has eight streets on the list for maintenance/repairs, including Robertson Avenue and Constitution Drive. The total estimated cost of maintenance/repairs is $1.15 million, all of which would come from street maintenance fees.
It would take 12 years to get through all the CIP projects as long as they were constantly funded, Haverlah said.
The work group gave three recommendations, with the number one recommendation being to focus on maintaining the city’s roads that are currently in good condition, through crack sealing, using herbicides and hiring a work crew of three to do the needed work as recommended in the FY 2019-2020 budget. The work group also recommended that the city renew the 1/8 cent sales tax allocation, which would require voters to approve the allocation again in 2020.
Haverlah also recommended that city council use up the funds already collected from the 1/8 cent sales tax allocation for the work crew. City council allocated $450,000 of that money in this year’s budget for roadway maintenance.
The second recommendation is for the city to begin doing more visible work on street maintenance such as mil and overlay work on Robertson Avenue and Main Street and a reclamation level on Constitution Drive.
Those three roads were selected because “they have a high traffic count, low PCI index and will be most impactful maintenance projects to work on besides routine maintenance items such as crack sealing and herbicide,” Haverlah said.
Recommendation number two also includes beginning the process of implementing a street maintenance fee, starting with holding public meetings and meeting with citizens and identifying what and where the need is.
Haverlah informed council members that the city is already in the process of beginning contracting with a company to do bore samples for Constitution Drive, with four samples to be done on June 10.
Any time a road requires mil and overlay work, the city will take bore samples, Haverlah said.
Recommendation three is to begin street reconstruction, specifically on Pecan Cove. This project would run concurrent to other projects and would require a contractor because the city does not have the equipment or the staff to do such a project.
Chavez requested that the city take the effort to let the public know as much information as possible so “they can see where the money is going, and that it is going to fix roads like we really need to do.”
When Haverlah asked council members for direction on how to move forward regarding the street maintenance plan and fee, council members agreed that the city should move forward with hiring and funding a work crew focused solely on street maintenance.
Regarding starting with Constitution Drive, as proposed by recommendation two, council members advised Haverlah to wait until bore samples come back, as well as look at additional figures to calculate which projects would take priority.
Council member Jay Manning suggested adding an efficiency number for the maintenance of roads, looking at the PCI in the present condition as well as in the future and evaluate the cost if nothing is done, the cost if some corrective action is taken and the cost of the benefits from that action.
“And we’ll maintain our roads for less money and we really don’t have a lot to be wasting,” Manning said. “It’ll take a little bit more administrative expense, but I think it’s a wiser decision for the maintenance part of it especially.
Chavez suggested that once council receives the results of the bore samples, using the traffic counts, three PCIs and creating a different rating matrix to determine what to do next, specifically for maintenance projects.