|The public hearing for the street repair program is March 24 at 7:00.|
In Fort Thomas, city staff as well as members of the Public Works Department and City Engineer staff drive the streets and keep a running tab of streets that are in need of the most attention. A list is kept for streets out to five years, but only specific streets are seriously considered two years out. If streets begin to deteriorate faster or special circumstances arrive, a street may be bumped up for repair.
The city also takes requests from residents to repair streets. Many residents on Churchill Drive have requested repair. Waterworks Road also had a formal request sent.
Fort Thomas splits the cost of street repair with its residents, usually on a 50/50 cost sharing basis. Heavily trafficked streets are assessed with a heavier city share, such as N. Fort Thomas, with the city taking on 60% of the cost to the homeowner's 40%.
The costs are calculated by how many feet the homeowner's property runs alongside of the street.
Last year the city is expecting to receive $97,000 from the homeowner's portion of the repairs. This year two streets, N. Fort Thomas and Churchill Drive, will bump that number up to $168,000. Repair bills to individuals ranged from $380-$2,800 last year.
The street repair program is one that is lauded by city officials and is often a point of ire for residents who do not think they should have to be held financially responsible to repair the city's streets.
Another point of contention is that some homeowner's have much more footage than others. For example corner lots versus cul-de-sac lots have a big disparity in total costs.
Mayor Eric Haas explained the decision-process behind assessing private residents for street repair. "The (public hearings) used to be very contentious, but over the years things have gotten much better. The majority of residents want their streets repaired," said Haas. "I know some cities don't assess (their residents) at all and people sometimes get upset at the concept, but when you look at the other alternatives, this one makes the most sense."
"If (the repairs) were just paid by tax dollars, everyone would want their street repaired, but when you have a little skin in the game, people are more logical about the process. They may say 'I don't really need our street to be done this year.'"
This year's program has a much bigger price tag than usual. "We usually budget, around 600-650,000 dollars for the Road Aid Fund Budget. Last year we didn't have as a big of a number because we knew we had some big projects coming up," said Don Martin, City Administrator.
The total budget for this year's street repair program is $872,000. Because there were some design flaws when it was first put in and requires outside engineering help, Churchill Dr. will cost an estimated $342,000. N. Fort Thomas Ave will also have a big price tag at $250,000.
N. Fort Thomas Ave is also slated for a water main replacement this year that will be completed by SD1.
Possible streets that could be repaired next year: Barrett, Vernon James, Mayfield, Daisy and Wilbers. Other streets on the radar: Custis and Washington.
There is a public hearing on this program set for Tuesday, March 24 at 7:00 PM.