XENIA — Xenia residents Nov. 6 voted no on a new property tax, telling city officials to find a different way to fix the deteriorating roads.
By a 4,415-3806 vote, Issue 11 — a 3.5 mill levy — failed according to unofficial results posted by the Greene County Board of Elections.
Had the levy passed, it would have generated $1.3 million annually and cost the owner of a $100,000 home approximately $10.21 per month. By law, the money could have only be used for the rehabilitation of roads, bridges, and transportation systems and the fund is fully audited.
According to City Manager Brent Merriman, the city will continue to operate as it is now, investing $500,000 annually as it promised when the income tax increase was approved by voters in 2010. Xenia will also seek grants and more economic growth to generate more money, Merriman previously said. He added that city will have to prioritize streets and reduce expenditures into other programs. But Merriman cautioned that the city can’t put all of its focus on roads as it still needs to invest in things like technology and parks and trails.
The poor condition of the roads in Xenia is well-known throughout the city.
Xenia has invested more than $6.8 million to rehabilitate 72 lane miles since 2011, utilizing the aforementioned $500,000.
But that amount simply isn’t enough, according to city officials. Xenia has 281 lane miles and the average cost to improve one 11-foot wide lane is $116,000 per mile. If the city could write a check and get all the roads fixed immediately it would cost $37,500,000 as of 2014, according to city documents.
But Merriman said the city is not generating enough general capital money to tackle the issue. If the city spent money differently on other projects there would be some money freed up but still not enough, Merriman added.
Previous councils and administrations also faced lack of money, which is why the roads have consistently been neglected for 40 years, according to Merriman.
Xenia could have considered fixing the roads via debt service, but unlike the situation with the new administration building, a road is not an asset that would earn a good interest rate, Merriman said. Also, the city needs to have the ability to pay the debt back meaning it wouldn’t have been able to borrow the amount necessary to address all the roads.
“We just didn’t feel like that in the long run that made the most strategic sense,” Merriman said.
One road already planned for repair in 2019 is Second Street, which will receive curb-t0-curb, full-depth replacement from downtown to Progress Drive.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.