Victoria officials weigh cutting back road projects with increasing tax rate
April 22, 2014 at 9:02 p.m.
Updated April 21, 2014 at 11:22 p.m.
Victoria leaders face more than 375 million reasons to repair the city's neglected streets and utilities.
During the first work session to prioritize a decade of infrastructure projects, the City Council took a look Tuesday at the political tightrope they could soon walk, claiming their positions on balancing much-needed infrastructure projects with limited resources.
City staff is recommending the council approve a five-year plan that funds $149.8 million in projects by tax increases and debt.
The plan also postpones a $13.5 million expansion of Mallette Drive, which Councilman Tom Halepaska championed last year.
Councilman Emett Alvarez could be the catalyst to getting more projects addressed sooner but will need the support of the rest of the council to pass a larger increase in debt and taxes.
"We're hearing a lot more rumblings out there (from residents), and I tend to agree with them," Alvarez said.
He wants to take a harder look at the figures, dedicate more to projects waiting in the wings and "start chipping away and accelerating the process."
"If we want to speed this up, if we want to deal with these issues - I've heard a lot of talk about past councils passing the buck," Alvarez said. "Are we going to come up with solutions and other ideas? I think this is the time."
Mayor Paul Polasek said the recommended plan is a positive move for the city, particularly the $2 million that will be set aside each year for residential street maintenance.
The plan includes more than $35 million over five years for residential street projects along with $8.5 million for the construction of Placedo Benavides Drive, which is an eastward expansion of Glascow Street.
"I don't want to increase anyone's taxes if I don't have to," Polasek said.
The city's financial director, Gilbert Reyna, said more projects could be done sooner with a major tax increase between 7 and 9 cents per $100 valuation.
Improvements to Crestwood Drive, Mallette Drive and North Street, which have been put off until at least 2020, should be priorities, Alvarez said.
A six-year wait, considering the longevity of the city, comes quick, City Manager Charmelle Garrett said.
She said the staff is recommending a tax increase for the upcoming budget, which will be adopted this fall. Firm figures are expected to be presented during budget workshops in June.
"When you stop and think about it, from a financial standpoint for a city's life, six years is not that long," Garrett said.