Every city in America faces the challenge of finding resources to maintain its streets. Smaller communities such as Astoria must meet this task with a smaller financial portfolio.

Chelsea Gorrow in Wednesday’s edition depicted the city of Astoria’s process. In a nutshell, Astoria paves every other year, because that’s when it has a sufficiently large funding package to afford more paving and a larger job for putting out to bid.

Astoria’s was ahead of the curve in 2007 when it sought voter approval for a local gas tax. That has provided a steady – albeit limited – stream of dollars for street maintenance. Fuel dealers’ lobbyists succeeded in prohibiting cities from raising their gas taxes.

There are signs that the revenue stream can’t keep up with city streets’ deterioration. There is a special expense – as Astoria Public Works Director Ken Cook told Gorrow – when a street is allowed to go into deep disrepair. Repaving a badly ruined street costs much more than maintaining streets that are in better shape.

Astoria used to rely upon a periodic streets levy for maintenance. The depth of a recession is not the time to put such a levy on the ballot. But sooner or later, the city will likely face the need for a larger revenue package to catch up with the daunting paving backlog.