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Our Community Focus

April Martinez Mayor's Message

Apr 01, 2016 01:01PM ● By Rob Schroder

Rob Schroder, Mayor of Martinez

In a recent survey of Martinez residents we found that, by and large, a significant percentage of the population was happy living in Martinez and pleased with the direction the city is going. They also said they would recommend Martinez to friends and family as a place to live. Not surprisingly, the survey also reported that the most important priorities to residents were police, paving streets & roads, and rebuilding the waterfront. Just this week I received five emails from residents complaining about the condition of our roads and streets. These also happen to be big priorities for me.

With gas tax revenues shrinking due to the falling price of oil, reduction in consumption from more fuel-efficient vehicles, and the recent “shift” allocation enacted by the state legislature to allow gas tax dollars to go to paying down the state transportation debt, we will fall even more behind in maintaining and improving our roads.

In the fiscal year 2014-2015 Martinez’ gas tax revenue was $1.047 million. In fiscal year 2015-2016 it is expected to be $771,000, a reduction of $276,000. How can we keep up with our road and infrastructure maintenance with a diminishing revenue stream? 

As reported in a recent pavement management program report developed for the city, Martinez has 121.6 miles of streets made up of 938 pavement sections. The average overall rating of the city’s pavement condition index (PCI) is 51, or just barely considered “good.” However, without adequate funding for recommended maintenance treatments, the condition will drop to “poor” in the next few years. Keep in mind; this is the “average” rating for “all” streets and roads in the city.

The report sets out two scenarios: 

1)     A 5-year expenditure total of $69.5 million, which would elevate the PCI to 86 and also eliminate the deferred maintenance backlog. The first year would require funds of $36.6 million, which is $16 million more than our annual general fund, making this unrealistic.

2)     Over the next 5 years the PCI will decrease to 44, which indicates the current level of investment in paving has no impact on preventing the deterioration of the current pavement conditions.

The maintenance backlog will increase from $33.6 million to $65.6 million, which shows that current funding level for streets is clearly insufficient to maintain the network in “good” condition. The report concludes that funding must be increased to $4 million or more annually.

Where is that funding going to come from? Not from a declining gas tax! No. Unrestricted reserves (our rainy day fund)? No. Measure J funds? Federal and state grants? Maybe, if we are lucky. 

I believe it is time for us to get serious about bringing our streets and roads to an acceptable condition and to consider placing a measure on the November ballot for the repair and maintenance of our infrastructure, the rebuilding of our waterfront, and the enhancement of our police services. 

This could take the form of a ½ cent sales tax, which would generate approximately $2.1 million dollars per year. Although our current paving strategy is aggressive, considering available resources and funds, it is not sustainable. It is not going to come from the federal, state, or regional governmental agencies. If we want to improve our community, it is up to us.