Council considers best use of road funds

EAST LIVERPOOL – Revenue from a 5-mill street levy will begin being collected this year, and city officials have begun preliminary talks on the best uses for the money.

It is estimated the levy will generate about $465,000 annually over its five-year life, and City Council’s streets committee met Tuesday to discuss what streets will receive attention this year.

Service-Safety Director Ryan Estell reminded council that 3 mills has been earmarked for neighborhood paving projects, with the remaining 2 mills to be set aside as matching funds for larger paving projects that are paid for with state and federal monies.

Estell also assured residents that the city will be audited to guarantee the levy money is used only for street resurfacing.

“It cannot be used for any other purpose,” Estell emphasized.

Councilman Ray Perorazio suggested some of the revenue could be used to purchase equipment used for street repairs, such as a road grader, but he was advised that the levy cannot be used for such purchases.

Estell had encouraged the street committee to meet early and make plans for this year’s street paving program and told members about a company that offers a different type of chip and seal program called fog seal which entails chipping and sealing first then laying asphalt on top.

An alley behind the hospital will be done with this material to see how it works out, according to Estell.

Chairman Scott Barrett said streets need prepped prior to any resurfacing, and Estell said, “That’s why we need to know what’s coming so (Deputy Service-Safety Director Dan Galeoti) can prepare.”

The committee debated the merits of paving one neighborhood each year of the five years instead of streets in several neighborhoods, prompting Perorazio to say, “(Residents) will hang you. You can’t do just one area (per year). Even if you picked my area, I’d say no.”

Councilman Ryan Stovall pointed out that “all roads need work, some worse than others.”

Barrett, who serves as road foreman for St. Clair Township, questioned how the city has reached the point that there never seems to be any funding in the budget for streets.

Estell related that the city still has infrastructure for a population of 30,000 that must be cared for when it has only a population of 11,000, half of whom do not pay taxes.

“We have people still living in every area of the city with a budget one-third of what we need,” Estell said.

It was agreed to have council members provide lists of what streets in their areas need paved, based on priority, which will then be reviewed and compiled into a list based on available funding.

It was emphasized that street employees will be filling potholes and doing other normal street maintenance in addition to the upcoming paving projects, with Councilman Sherrie Curtis saying material for filling potholes is not purchased with levy funding but from another fund.

City Council as a whole was apprised of this decision at a meeting which followed the committee meeting.