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FAQ 3 Year Street Program

  • What is the street program?

    A program to reconstruct approximately 11 miles of the roads in the worst shape in the City of Howell within a 3 year time frame (2009-2012). Water, Sewer, and Storm Drainage and rehabilitation are also included. The streets will be reconstructed with a mixture of full-curb-gutter streets and wing-curb designs depending on the conditions of the street.

    The program will be financed through a variety of sources,

    including: General Obligation Bonds, low interest loans from the Drinking Water Revolving Fund (DWRF) and Sewer Revenue Bonds.  To supplement the DWRF financing, the City will have to:

    a.  Raise water rates by $1.40 per 1,000/ gallons, or about $7/month for an average residential customer; this equals about a 30% increase over a three to five year period

    b. Increase property taxes by 1 mill in 2009 and perhaps another 1 mill in 2010, depending on whether or not the Michigan economy is rebounding by then.

    The City is pursuing this program now because residents on the targeted streets have expressed a desire to have their streets fixed.  We also have an excellent opportunity to finance a major portion of the project with extra-low interest bonds and construction costs are very competitive at this time.

  • Why does it cost so much?

    This is a complete reconstruction, not just a quick fix. Using

    MDOT’s methodology and rating system, these roads identified for the three-year program are beyond simple repair.  The assessment includes criteria such as number of cracks, potholes, patches, condition of the shoulder, curbs, etc. The cost also includes utility work, such as new water and sewer lines and taps and improvements to the water tower and treatment plant.

  • Can't you just repave the streets?

    In addition to fixing our crumbling streets, we are also addressing the need for utility repairs. Much of the water & sewer infrastructure is in excess of 50 years old and is in need of replacement. The City also needs to address long-existing stormwater runoff problems on certain streets.

    It is anticipated that this investment now will reduce maintenance costs in the future and ensure uninterrupted delivery of water and sewer services to our residents. An increasing percentage of our road dollars need to be reallocated from rebuilding to maintenance of existing good roads – otherwise we lose the investment we’ve made in rebuilding them

  • Why is the City considering raising taxes?

    The City Council is committed to maintaining the current level of services you receive from the City. Without a major reduction of other City Services there is no way the City can update/upgrade the utilities and streets within a reasonable future timeframe given our current level of finances.

    Because of the state of the economy and declining property values, the City’s General Fund tax revenues are flat. A majority of the remaining roads that need to be rebuilt are local streets and are not eligible for State/Federal grants, thus placing a larger burden on our general fund budget. We have a unique opportunity to take advantage of grant funds (because of the sewer and water repairs needed) and low interest financing.

  • How will this affect my City services?

    It will not reduce your level of service. The City Council is

    committed to maintaining the services provided to our residents.  Adoption of the street program will have no effect on the level of services currently provided to the citizens of the City of Howell. We believe this is part of what makes Howell a great community.

  • Has the City done anything to control costs?

    City Staff has conducted a comprehensive review of all available methodologies so that we get the most return on our investment.  As with all major projects, the City also has a competitive bid process to ensure that we get the best price for construction services. Despite higher material costs right now, labor costs are low. The City’s use of DWRF low interest financing will also result in significant savings.

    To achieve potential economies of scale for the program, Staff has grouped streets together in geographic areas and corresponding utilities.

  • How did you do all the roads before?

    As funds became available through a combination of property tax revenues and grant programs, the City was able to upgrade about two thirds (20+ miles) of our streets with utility updates over the past 12-14 years. However, this approach is no longer viable based upon flat tax revenues and a decline in the availability of grant programs. The deteriorating condition of many of our streets, the desire to maintain service delivery to our residents, and the need to enhance the economic vitality and property values of our community emphasize the need for a comprehensiveimprovement program.

  • Will we have a chance to participate and give comments?

    The City plans to conduct a series of city-wide, neighborhood-based design charrettes in September so that residents will have significant input into the design of their streets. During the charrette process, the proposed construction program will be explained and residents will have an opportunity offer input in the design process.

    You can also post questions or comments on the Street Program Blog.