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Street, sidewalk study continues

January 30, 2019
Chris Petree

The cost of maintaining Rochester streets and sidewalks is getting a closer look.

“The public needs some honest communication about what our liabilities are,” Rochester City Council Member Michael Wojcik said Monday.

While it’s estimated that the city’s street maintenance program is underfunded by $23 million a year, Public Works Director Chris Petree said study is underway to get a better grasp on those figures and the city’s needs.

The city hired WSB & Associates to help complete a pavement management work plan to address the specific concerns and collect data, which will also help create a comprehensive financial analysis of the city’s current situation.

Petree said the goal is to bring a report to the council by July 1.

Along with needs related to street maintenance will be options related to funding continued sidewalk improvements, which are currently assessed to property owners as work is done.

Council Member Nick Campion said a better option needs to be found, rather than presenting property owners with hefty bills at random times.

“I think the overall system is broken,” he said, calling the current system “the worst sort of tax possible.”

One proposal considered in the past is the creation of sidewalk improvement districts, which could provide an alternative for funding sidewalk repairs.

Petree said such an option, as well as other financing alternatives, will likely be part of his report when the work with WSB is complete.

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