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 Wednesdays edition depicted the city of Astorias process. In a nutshell, Astoria paves every other year, because thats when it has a sufficiently large funding package to afford more paving and a larger job for putting out to bid.
Astorias 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 cant 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.