Changes to lights

Dayton upgrading streetlights through assessment program

By 2020, Dayton will have more than 10,000 LED streetlights, which is twice as many as officials initially expected and should save the city money in electricity and maintenance costs.

Dayton is replacing all 5,000 of the streetlights it owns with energy-efficient, light-emitting diode (LED) fixtures as part of a special assessment program it implemented in 2014. Property owners will be assessed annual fees for six years under the program.

Through the end of last year, the city collected about $5.7 million in assessments from property owners.

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Dayton to assess property owners to fix streetlights

In addition, a private company that owns 5,000 street lights in the city - Miami Valley Lighting - plans to replace about one-third of the 15,000 streetlights it owns with LED technology, officials said.

The city each year spends about $2.1 million on electric costs for its streetlights and Miami Valley Lighting’s, officials said. Some lights in the city’s system are 15 to 20 years old.

Standard LED lights usually cost about $250 to $400, but decorative fixtures found in places like the Wright-Dunbar business district can be $1,200 to $1,400.

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In addition to cutting costs, the LED poles will make roadways and neighborhoods safer by improving visibility, said Keith Steeber, chief engineer with the city.

“The existing ones now are orange-ish and a little bit foggy, and the LEDs are white, brighter and more concentrated light,” he said.

The city of Dayton has swapped out 426 streetlights with LED fixtures through the special property-assessment program that city commissioners approved in July 2014.

The city already replaced nearly 1,500 lights along thoroughfares with LED technology.

Dayton is on track to swap out all city-owned streetlights with LEDs by 2020, which is when the assessment period concludes, officials said.

LED fixtures will reduce electric usage by about 40 percent, and they have longer lifespans and fewer maintenance needs than the lights they replace, Steeber said.

City officials wanted Miami Valley Lighting to replace its streetlights with LEDs, but the company was under no obligation to do so.

However, the company now plans to convert about 5,400 of its mercury-vapor and high-pressure-sodium lights to energy-efficient fixtures in the next four years, the company said.

Miami Valley Lighting also has added 133 new streetlights in Dayton to fill in gaps on darkened streets, and it probably will add about 300 lights by the end of the assessment period, Steeber said.

The assessment program has helped improve the city’s streetlight network in multiple ways, said Diane Shannon, deputy director of the city’s office of management and budget.

The city used the assessment revenue to hire a three-person crew to prune trees and increase the visibility and effectiveness of streetlights, Shannon said. The crew has pruned more than 700 trees since the program began.

“Not only do we have additional lumens, but obstructions are being cleared,” Shannon said.

The city also hired two new electricians to maintain the streetlights. Since July 2014, they have responded to 4,350 service calls, Shannon said.

The program was controversial among some community members.

The assessments are on all types of properties, including those belonging to nonprofit groups and institutions that are usually exempt from property taxes, such as churches, governments and the University of Dayton and Miami Valley Hospital.

Some major institutions strongly opposed and unsuccessfully challenged the validity of their assessments.

About 8 percent of assessments owed remain outstanding and past due. For 2015 and 2016, delinquent assessments totalled about $465,000.

The most delinquent property owners include some shuttered churches, defunct companies and the Dayton Arcade LLC.

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