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Bernardini: residents along Oak Park should understand road won’t be fixed until 2033.

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DEC. 3, 2018 BROOKSVILLE CITY COUNCIL- Revisiting a discussion from a previous meeting, Bernardini asked for information regarding whether staff was to bring back a cost for the work needed on Park Avenue. Battista stated that was not discussed because Bernardini talked about resurfacing the road at Providence, followed by Oak Park. He said they could direct staff to do an estimate. 

Kemerer said the issue is determining the extent of the work involved. Just putting blacktop over it will not resolve the underlying issue of the roads. The entire road base will need to be rebuilt at Park Avenue and several other main feeder roads. 

Kemerer intended to discuss updating the asset management plan, the objective list of what roads should be repaired, in order of importance. He suggested that several roads could be selected for engineering and construction estimates, which have more than tripled since the list was prepared. If the plan does require an update, the city may need to just begin at #1 and work through the list as funds are available. Unfortunately, the public may not agree with the order.   

Bernardini and Erhard agreed that a reassessment of the plan is needed. Some roads are deteriorating to the point that “there won’t be a road” by the time the predetermined date arrives. He thinks that continually patching is less cost effective than replacing the road. Kemerer stated to avoid expensive mistakes, the road needs to be engineered, including core drillings. This would have saved money at the time Veterans Avenue was rebuilt, he said.

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Battista remarked that the ranking of roads was an objective analysis, “not city council analysis” of the order to fix the roads. In his opinion, keeping to the list would prevent issues that would be generated if they “jumped” roads up the list to a higher priority. It may require a triage system, he said, to save a road (Mildred, for example) rather than a road that is already beyond saving (such as Oak Park). It would also represent a cost savings.  

Some road repairs/replacements have been made, but others have not. Some seemed to be of less importance, while others were necessary, like Veterans Avenue due to the continual use by police and fire departments, Battista said. The council may need another contract with the engineers to re-prioritize the list. 

Kemerer said the study that accompanied the ranking detailed the criteria used. It did not state that core drillings were used but some roads appear to have had a visual examination only. The amount of traffic on the road should also be taken into account, Battista said, as potential business owners or residents may choose another location if the roads are poor.  

Brayton asked if money has been budgeted for the ideas that were discussed. There is money, Kemerer responded, but the amount is not determined yet because of the police pension plan. That means a two year delay before anything can be done, Battista said, putting the initial road projects in the 2020 Capital Improvement Plan. 

The fire assessment is another issue, Kemerer said, and could potentially make more funds available if the fire department is moved from the general fund. It also gives the city time to have a new road assessment with updated ranking. If the tax base increases, then more money will be available.

Brayton said he reviewed the budget packet even though he was not yet on the council and did not see any of the proposed projects accounted for in the budget. If the pension issue results in less money for the city to have available, and projects are scheduled, Brayton wondered how the city would pay for them. 

Kemerer responded that ad valorem taxes brought $2.7 million to the city. Retiring the police department and transferring to the Sheriff’s Department (at a cost of $900,000) represents a savings of $1.9 million in the general fund. When the fire department is moved out of the general fund, that will add $800,000 more for a total of $2.5 million in available funds.  

Brayton expressed concern for the low reserves that were carried over from FY 2018, just over $2 million, an amount he felt would just begin a project. His recommendation would be for the city to obtain funding for infrastructure. Highway use taxes and gas taxes are already designated. 

Brayton suggested the city needs to make difficult budget decisions if they intend to rebuild the roads and agreed that cherry-picking which roads to fix would be a mistake. Roads should be a priority for the upcoming budget, he said, and there are six months left to plan where to get money for them. “You cannot start and stop these projects,” he said. 

To recap, Bernardini said, the residents along Oak Park should understand that the road is not going to be fixed until 2033. 

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