The Duncan Banner

May 10, 2013

City not ready to incur more debt for streets

Mike Smith
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — If Duncan voters reject a $9 million bond issue to fund street repairs on May 14, don’t look for a repeat of 2007.

When voters rejected two separate funding proposals for street work that year – one a $20 million property tax bond and the other an increase in the sales tax – city leaders borrowed $10 million anyway to pay for some major road work.

Duncan City Manager Jim Frieda says he won’t recommend a similar move if Tuesday’s bond is rejected by voters and members of the City Council also say that’s off the table.

Frieda notes that when he became city manager about three years ago, the city had $60 million in debt — including most of the $10 million loan taken out for street repairs that did not come with new, additional revenues to pay for it.

As of now, the city’s debt is down to $56 million, and Frieda likes the direction it’s going – downward.

“If we were to incur the same kind of debt — another $10 million for streets — we would be at $66 million (in debt) and I am not willing to do that,” Frieda said.

So what would happen with the streets, many of them in sorry shape?

“We would keep plugging away annually in our capital improvement budget trying to keep things from deteriorating farther,” Frieda said.

The amount of money spent each year on street repairs fluctuates depending on other capital needs, but typically ranges from about $250,000 to $750,000, said Public Works Director Scott Vaughn.

 That’s not nearly enough to do comprehensive renovation, but it’s the kind of money the city would have – in Frieda’s words – to “keep plugging away.”