City commits $125,000 in MFT funds toward street work

PAXTON — The Paxton City Council’s street and alley committee voted Monday to recommend to the full council that the city spend about $125,000 in motor fuel tax money to repair streets this summer.

The amount will not cover the some $481,000 worth of suggested repaving on street department Superintendent Randy Swan’s wish list, but Swan is hoping the council will be able to add $50,000 to the total as it has the past several years from the general fund.

The council is unable to commit now to the additional money because the budget for next fiscal year has not yet been determined.

Swan said he expects the motor fuel tax fund to have about $256,000 in it by July, accruing by about $9,000 per month. But Swan said he likes to leave half the fund untouched each year in case some emergency arises with the streets, sidewalks or drainage that motor fuel tax money can fund.

Because it will come from a maintenance line item in the budget, the committee is committed to spending about $26,000 to oil-and-chip the streets in the A.J. Flesner subdivision on the city’s west side. Last year, rock was spread to build up the streets there.

Alderman Brad Marshall said perhaps it is time to quit repaving streets with asphalt and instead oil-and-chip streets like other area towns do. He said it would be much cheaper and would seal up areas where cracks and potholes expose the subsurface.

Swan agreed that could be a possible approach but noted that oil-and-chipping over time builds up the center of the street and leads to crowning.

Swan said he will also report back to the council what it might cost to rework Washington Street, which runs along the west side of Glen Cemetery. Swan said it needs to be milled, moved to the west and straightened. He said he has heard that people are driving on the grass because it has a better surface than the street.

Also Monday, the finance committee met at the request of Alderman Alan Meyer. Meyer said he is concerned that the city in its budgeting process is not building in the cost each year of purchasing large-ticket items like a street sweeper.

Meyer’s concerns followed last week’s denial by the council of Swan’s request to purchase a new sweeper for $173,000. Swan asked for the city to borrow money and pay it back over five years. The council directed Swan to have the sweeper repaired for $10,000 to try to make it last several more years.

Marshall agreed with Meyer and said the city needs to do long-range planning and budget toward the future.

The city has nearly $1 million in reserve funds. That would be enough to run things if all other income ceased for about six months. The city has tightened its belt because several years ago that reserve had dipped dangerously low to about $80,000.

City Attorney Bob Martensen reminded aldermen that property taxes make up a small portion of city income. Last year property tax revenue amounted to about $115,000. The vast majority of income was money from the state — $330,000 in income taxes and $558,000 in sales taxes.

Comptroller Julie Burgess said the state is behind about three months in income tax payments to the city but that a check comes in every month. She said the state fell behind several years ago but is making steady payments.

 

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