By Mary Owen
To make long-overdue repairs to city streets, Stayton and Aumsville will seek a share of the federal stimulus funds heading to Oregon in the next few months.
Oregon could receive up to $350 million from the highway funding included in the federal economic stimulus package, a portion of which will be set aside for local projects, according to information on the Oregon Department of Transportation Web site.
“It would be wonderful if we got some of that money,” said City Administrator Don Eubank. “All we’ve been doing is patching our streets and fixing the potholes.”
Public Works Director Dave Kinney expects ODOT, using a population-based formula, to distribute some $150,000 to $200,000 to Stayton for street maintenance improvements.
That amount, coupled with other city funds, will enable the city to proceed with street overlay projects this summer. High priority projects that may be funded include street overlays in the East Pine Street neighborhood east of 10th Avenue, West Virginia Avenue (1st Avenue to the Community Center entry) or Third Avenue north of Elwood Street.
“ODOT has notified cities that projects should be ready to proceed with construction within 90-120 days of congressional approval of the stimulus package,” Kinney said of a condition required to receive economic stimulus funds.
As with typical stimulus funding mechanisms, the city will complete the project, pay all the bills and then request reimbursement from ODOT. According to Kinney, the city will couple stimulus package funds with other funds available for summer’s street projects.
“At this point, our priorities will likely be the East Pine Street area overlays and maintenance work and hopefully one other street,” Kinney said. “We are looking to do projects from May to July.”
According to City Administrator Maryann Hills, Aumsville has applied for $107,190 for resurfacing Olney Street, a designated collector street that has “become uneven and is in fair-poor condition.”
“If we don’t get the stimulus funds, we will have to delay the paving until after our First Street safety improvements are completed and there is funding still available,” Hills said. “We’re hoping that this truly is a win-win stimulus opportunity, however, it’s difficult not to be skeptical.”
Both cities are scrambling to get their projects under contract and construction relatively quickly, a requirement for economic stimulus funding.
“We’ve talked to ODOT, but we don’t know what we’re going to get,” Eubank said.
For both cities, street maintenance has been a priority, but not carried through because of lack of funds and funding sources.
“Over the past 20 years, the city of Stayton has worked very effectively with Marion County to overlay and improve the main arterial streets,” Kinney said, referring to Shaff Road, Fern Ridge Road, Wilco Road and East Santiam and Washington streets. “However, the city has not had funds to perform routine maintenance on local residential streets or to upgrade deteriorating streets that do not have full curb, gutter, sidewalk or pavement improvements.”
“We will put any stimulus funds to good use fixing streets that are badly in need of repair,” Kinney said.
“However, the city will need more money over the next 10 years to catch up on deferred street maintenance.”
According to Kinney, Stayton should be spending between $300,000 and $400,000 per year on regular street maintenance, overlays and repairs.
“The City Council is actively looking at ways we can either raise additional funds for street maintenance or spend our existing state gas-tax dollars more effectively on street maintenance projects,” he said.
The Stayton City Council conducted a workshop in January to look at the options of imposing a local gas tax, a monthly maintenance fee, or asking voters to approve a general obligation bond for street improvements, Kinney said.
“They have not made any decisions yet,” he added. “After the council’s February goal-setting session, we expect additional meetings will be held in March and April to decide how to fund street maintenance in the future.”
Kinney said the city developed a list of other projects that could be funded with federal stimulus dollars, but a grant application has not been filed to date on these projects. A list was submitted to the Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments, which is serving as a clearing house to develop a project list for all local cities and counties. Stayton’s list includes: water main improvements to East Pine Street and 10th Avenue; street improvements to 10th Avenue; water plant upgrade (clearwell); and wastewater treatment plant upgrades.
The city is looking for other ways to fund the projects, including loan applications to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Utilities for $5.8 million toward the wastewater treatment plant improvements.
City staff is also working on a $4.5 million water plant improvement upgrade. Bids will be opened on March 10. The project is being financed with a low-interest loan from the Oregon Economic and Community Development Department, Kinney said.
“If we see an opportunity obtain additional funding for projects such as the East Pine Street water main or the additional water plant clearwell improvements, we will pursue them and expand the scope of this project,” he added.
A full list of projects is available by calling the Stayton City Hall at 503-769-3425.