PORTSMOUTH – City Manager Sam Sutherland has formally asked the council to approve legislation for the placement of a proposed levy in the City of Portsmouth for paving.
The levy will be in the amount of one and a half mills to be used for additional street resurfacing and would be included on the May, 3rd 2022 primary ballot.
The current budget for street paving is $400,000 and comes from the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) fund as well as an additional $100,00 from the Street Construction, Maintenance, and Repair fund. Sutherland argues that this levy would significantly help rehabilitate more streets in town and benefit motorists by allowing preventative maintenance methods.
“The Street fund is what put us in a fiscal watch,” explained Sutherland. “It has ran behind for years. Currently, we are caught up a bit but it’s close based on our future forecasts. The gasoline tax that Governor DeWine put on two years ago was supposed to be a big boost. However, COVID hit and people just weren’t traveling as much.”
“That gas tax was supposed to bring in an additional $350,00,” echoed City Auditor Trent Williams. “The number is nowhere near that.”
Third Ward Councilman Kevin E. Johnson was opposed to the levy – stating other upcoming spending projects such as the McKinley Pool renovation.
“I’m not going to support this,” said Johnson. “I have a problem with how we are spending. Infrastructure, to me, is one of the most important things we face. But, how are we doing to approve spending half a million dollars on the pool and when it comes to infrastructure we pass it on to the voters and let them take care of it? I don’t see how we do that.”
Many on the council seemed supportive of the levy – which would be voted on by voters.
“I keep hearing that we aren’t doing anything about roads,” said Councilman Martell. “The reason our roads were in such disrepair was that we didn’t have an engineer. Now we do. And he’s putting in a lot of man hours and doing a great job.”
“He’s doing amazing work,” said Councilwoman Gordon. “Every street in every single ward is now color-coded based on its condition. It’s going to help us move forward.”
Council agreed to add the legislation to the next City Manager’s conference agenda. It looks to be destined for the ballot in May.
In other City news, Council voted to take no action on legislation that would create a ballot measure asking voters whether or not to maintain minimum staffing requirements for the Fire and Police Department within the City Charter. After a rigorous debate, the council agreed to take two weeks to gather more information and talk to Police Chief Debbie Brewer, Fire Chief Bill Raison, and City Manager Sutherland to obtain their opinions on the matter.
The next Portsmouth City Council meeting will be held on Monday, December 13 at 6 p.m. As usual, they are livestreamed on the Portsmouth City Government Facebook Page.
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