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New tax for street repairs to be voted on in Xenia

Voters in Xenia may see a new tax issue on the November ballot that would pay for street repairs and maintenance.

City Council will consider a resolution Thursday that would place a street levy on the November ballot.

The proposal is for a 10-year, 3.5-mill levy that would generate $1.3 million a year of additional revenue that would be slated for street maintenance and repair work, according to Xenia Mayor Sarah Mays.

“The rate of decline in regards to streets exceeds the rate of revenue the city receives with which to deal with it,” Mays said.

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Council members opted earlier this year to allocate more funds toward street repairs after a winter of extreme temperature changes and heavy rains.

“The council has already reprioritized other capital projects in order to add funding to streets this year,” Mays said. “Beyond that, council has given a directive to staff to evaluate any adjustment that could possibly be made in the operating budget that wouldn’t have a negative effect on core service delivery.”

RELATED: City manager says not enough revenue to fix streets in Xenia

State and federal grants pushed the city’s allocation toward street repairs this year up to $2.8 million, according to city records.

Work has been done on Progress Drive as well as on Detroit Street as part of a downtown safer street project being driven by the Ohio Department of Transportation.

About $800,000 is devoted annually for street repairs in Xenia, a combination of revenue from the city’s capital fund and state and federal excise and gas taxes, City Manager Brent Merriman said in an interview earlier this year.

In February, when pothole repairs started to be a priority, Merriman said the city’s streets overall are in bad shape, partly because not enough resources were devoted to maintaining them in past years.

“The state of disrepair that’s been left as it was for decades in some cases … really has caught up with us quicker than anticipated,” he said.

The issue is made more complicated when you take into account aging water and sewer infrastructure and the need to rebuild curbs.

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“What we really need is an infusion of cash to go and do a major reinvestment,” Merriman said. “That is just not possible with the resources we have today. There aren’t additional funds that can be transferred over to solve this problem … No one wants to hear the term tax increase, but on some level if we’re looking at a short- to intermediate-term fix the only way you can do that and bring wide-scale improvement is some type of revenue increase.”

Xenia City Council will need to pass measures this month to put the issue on the November ballot by the Aug. 8 deadline.

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