Improving Devine’s roads is a pricey proposition.
At the Special City Council meeting on Tuesday, September 8, City Engineer Raul Garcia presented a five-year, $1.5 million plan for road resurfacing and reconstruction, which works out to roughly $300,000 a year.
“You would probably get more competition, maybe even a little bit better contractors, or larger contractors that would give you better prices,” Garcia said.
Garcia explained that most of Devine’s streets are known as county sections, meaning they are two lanes with no curbs, ranging in width from about 16 feet to around 20 to 22 feet. The cost to resurface a 20-foot road is approximately $43 per foot.
At that price, he estimated that the City could resurface 6.6 miles, or about 22 percent of its approximately 29 miles of road, for the entire $1.5M.
However, Garcia recommended that the City transition to curbed, 34-foot streets, which accommodate parking along both sides of the street while also leaving room for traffic in both directions. He also said they provide good drainage.
“If there’s some areas that drainage might be an issue, it would certainly be recommended that you construct a curbed street,” Garcia said.
The cost to construct 34-foot curbed streets is around $216 per foot, which does not include correcting for any drainage issues.
“At this point what I would recommend is that I look every street in Devine and tell you ‘Okay, this street from here to here needs to be reconstructed, this street needs to be resurfaced,’ and then I will come to you and I will give you a list of those streets,” Garcia said. “And then it will be up to the Council to tell me what is it that you’re wanting to do that point.”
Mayor Cory Thompson said that if $1.5M was split evenly between resurfacing and reconstructing roads, the City would be in an endless cycle of road repair.
“We don’t have the best case scenario,” Thompson said. “We don’t have 30 miles of streets that simply need to be resurfaced, we have 30 miles of streets that probably at least 25 percent need reconstruction, if not more…which puts us on like a 40-plus year cycle, if we do the 50-50 split, because the reconstruct is not reconstructing at nearly the same rate as resurfacing is.”
A motion by District 5 Councilwoman Debra Randall and District 3 David Espinosa to table making a decision on resurfacing or reconstructing roads until Garcia returns with a road plan passed 5-0 with votes from District 1 Councilman Rufino Vega, District 2 Councilman Steve Lopez, and District 4 Councilman Chuck Guzman.
The $1.5M for the road work would be financed by a Certificate of Obligation. Financial advisor Andrew Friedman said a CO with an interest rate of 2.5 percent and payments of $170,000 a year would take the City 10 years to repay.
“Streets are paid for ad valorem taxes, so when a city borrows for that, for taxes to repay that debt, it’s not done through your Maintenance and Operations tax,” Friedman said. “It’s done through a separate tax, your Interest and Sinking tax, which you currently don’t have.”
Because of that, and because the first payment would be due in Spring 2021, Friedman recommended postponing financing street repair until the 2021-2022 fiscal year.
“That allows you to sell that debt next spring. As you go through the budget cycle next summer, you would be able to set an Interest and Sinking tax to cover the debt service,” Friedman said. “In order to repay this Certificate of Obligation, you’d be able to collect those taxes before you made that first payment [in February 2022]. If we do it any sooner, we’re going to have to come out of reserves in order to pay that.”
“What would this loan or debt or whatever, CO, what would this raise our tax to?” Thompson asked. “Because it would be levied with the next tax year.”
“Roughly 61 cents, all things being equal,” Friedman said.
The City’s current tax rate, which Council is proposing to stay at for the upcoming 2020-2021 fiscal year, is $.5298 per $100 of valuation.
By Marly Davis