Roads impacting the Xenia community
XENIA –– Xenia Officials lists deteriorating roads, state funding cuts and an aging infrastructure as reasons for placing a $3.5 million levy on the Nov. 6 ballot.
“I think it's safe to say that no one wants to see a tax increase - even if it's temporary measure. Our hope, though, is that the citizens of Xenia will afford the city this levy in order to bring the streets back up to par,” said Xenia Mayor Sarah Mays.
The levy would generate $1,277,000 annually for the city and provide funding for the construction, reconstruction, resurfacing, and repair of Xenia’s bridges, roads, and streets, according to Ryan Duke, Xenia’s finance director. An owner of a $100,000 house would pay an additional $10.21 per month.
Xenia sets aside $500,000 for the road budget each year, thanks to a 2010 levy increasing the income tax by 0.5 percent, explained Mays. The levy passed by a slim margin, 50.4 percent to 49.6 percent. Duke said the city spends over $500,000 per year to repair and resurface local roads. Additional funds are used to match state/federal grants to continue rehabilitation and safety improvements.
The city recently completed a Downtown Safety Project. According to Duke, this project was funded through state/federal grants with 92 percent of costs covered. The city was able to pave the main road with limited local dollars.
“It's important that no one "kicks the can down the road" any further. Instead, this is a chance to get our streets in good condition so that they can be properly maintained in the future,” said Mays.
The roads are in a bad state due to past decisions choosing to overlook the conditions of the roads.
“In Xenia, we are an older city with aging infrastructure, some of these accounts have been deferred and investments haven’t been made to the extent it probably should have been 50 years ago”, said Duke.
Xenia is not the only municipal struggling to find money to invest in the roads according to Duke. He blames the state for cutting funding to local governments. The cut resulted in “1.2 million dollars less in revenues from 7-8 years ago,” said Duke.
Councilman Dale Louderback believes Xenia could have doubled it’s road budget if the state did not cut the funds.
Despite the state cutting funds to local governments, the roads are in poor condition throughout the Miami Valley and the state due to a bad winter, according to Duke.
“The city has a history of not maintaining the roads in the past,” said Xenia resident Roger Huff, who is not planning on voting for the road levy because he and his wife, Karen, would pay an additional $25 every month. The Huffs would pay a higher tax because they own a home worth more than $100,000.
Xenia City Council approved placing the current levy on the ballot by a 5-2 vote on June 28. Councilmen Dale Louderback and Levi Dean voted against the resolution.
“What we need to do is grow our tax base and I think we can do that without taxing citizens,” Louderback said. “We can grow the tax base by bringing good paying jobs to the city. We got a couple things on the front and back burner, that if they come they will be good paying jobs to the city.”
Duke disagrees. “If the levy doesn’t pass, there’s very little we can do to generate funds,” he said. “ We are going to continue to do our best with what the tax payers have given us. It is much more difficult for us to make the progress that’s needed without additional resources.”
The City of Xenia has a total of 281 lane miles. According to the City of Xenia’s website, since 2011 the city has invested $6.8 million in rehabilitating roads. The city has rehabilitated 72 lane miles and one lane mile costs around $116,000.
“Meaning, $500,000 doesn’t go as far as some might think,” Mays said. “I think most people would agree that there are a couple streets that we would all like to see get done sooner than later (Colorado and Ledbetter to name just two)”.
Xenia uses the Pavement Condition Index (PCI) to determine which streets should be the top priority. The City of Xenia created a Street Solutions Committee to discuss ways to address the road problem. The committee decided a tax levy would be the best option.
The Huff’s believe an additional tax is not necessary. “The city has appropriated money in the wrong places and needs to re-budget,” said Karen. The seven year Xenia residents are not happy with the city’s decision to build the new city building.
Roger said, “The city should have built a new building for the police. In a few years, technology will expand and the police will continue to outgrow the current building. Additional space was not gained with the construction of the new city building.”
The Huff’s fear the city will spend additional tax dollars created from the levy in ways that will not improve and benefit the city in the best way possible.
The Huffs will be surprised if the Xenia road levy passes because they believe many citizens are not happy with the new city building, the Safety Project, and the talk of adding a roundabout.
If the levy passes, Roger hopes the city will use the money to fix the bases of the roads. “You have streets that were put in years ago when technology wasn’t there and different materials were available,” said Roger.
If the levy does not pass the city will continue to look for state/federal grants. There are several projects planned for next year that will be funded through grant dollars and a city match. Duke said the city is planning on paving Second Street next year.
City council placed the road levy on the Nov. 6 ballot, but the citizens of Xenia have the ultimate say in the matter. Voting for the levy determines the outcome of the roads and may impact current and future young adults staying in the city.
Roads impact public service, public transit, real estate and the citizens of the community. “It can be challenging to take pride in our city when streets look bad. There are a lot of things in this community that I'm proud of - that we can all be proud of, but everyday wear and tear on our vehicles can be discouraging and costly,” said Mays.
*** 2010 Issue 9 levy (Income Tax) Data ***
For (3489) 50.40%
Against (3434) 49.60%
Colorado Drive in Xenia features a deteriorating road. The city fixed the major potholes, but the fix was not permanent.
Ledbetter Road in Xenia is in similar condition. Residents do not experience a smooth drive on this road.