Riverside proposing road levy for third time in three years

Riverside may ask residents to support a road levy for the third time in three years.

Voters have shot down a levy to repair the city’s roads in years prior, but this proposal is different, said City Manager Mark Carpenter.

Carpenter said city staff are proposing a 5-mill, 5-year levy to city council that residents would potentially vote on in November.

The city asked voters to consider an 8-mill permanent levy in 2018 and 2019.

“We know we have a problem and that roads will continue to deteriorate,” Carpenter said. “We need to take action. We’ve tried to listen to feedback that the public was giving us on the other levies.”

The biggest complaint that residents had after the past two levies was that they didn’t want a permanent levy. They wanted the city to be able to show what work it had done before taking a step like that, Carpenter said.

Some residents at the work session stated that they didn’t want any tax increase at all, or that they would be more comfortable with a smaller or shorter levy.

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Kathy Bartlett, public service director for Riverside, said the proposed November street levy could be used exclusively for residential streets. It would generate about $1.25 million a year.

There are 307 residential streets in Riverside and, as of spring of last year, 174 of those streets have a pavement condition rating of 55 or below, meaning they need paved now, Bartlett said.

“These are the roads we get complaints on. These are the roads that are rough to ride,” Bartlett said.

The city hired a consulting group, Pavement Management Group, to evaluate the roads in Riverside last spring.

Bartlett said that in 2020, the cost to pave those 174 streets would be about $18 million. With the levy, the city would be able to pave 158 streets in five years, spending about $2 million each year.

The city would plan to ask voters for a second 5-year levy in 2025. In the second five years, Bartlett said 92 streets would get paved.

If Riverside wanted to include thoroughfares in the levy, it would increase the levy request from 5-mills to 6.5 mills, Bartlett said. The city determined that millage would generate $1.6 million a year.

For someone who owns a $100,000 house, a 5-mill levy would cost about $14.58 a month. With a 6.5-mill levy, the cost to someone who owns a $100,000 home is $18.96 a month, Carpenter said.

“Right now this city needs you to believe in us and invest in us,” said councilwoman April Franklin.

In 2019, the city spent about $1 million on road construction and repair work. The projects included work on Airway Road, Spinning Road and Woodman Drive. In 2020, Riverside has scheduled several road projects that will cost a little more than $1 million. Carpenter said the city has several multi-million dollar projects that city staff have determined need to be completed in the next couple of years.

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