The city income tax failed at the ballot on Nov. 5, so now the city has to figure out other ways to budget for badly-needed street repairs.
“It didn't get passed, and roads aren't going to get fixed any faster,” said Lowell city manager Michael Burns. “Basically, we're just going to have to go back to the drawing board and figure out how we're going to address this. There are not really a lot of options.”
Burns said the city's annual budget for local street repairs is around $330,000 a year.
“Most of the streets of the city are local streets, and they'll be reliant on the roughly $330,000 a year, depending on the year, that we have for streets,” Burns said. “And $330,000 isn't going to get you very far [so] it will be a very long time.”
The city is competing for grant funds to pay for some street repairs.
“Right now the state of Michigan doesn't give us any grant money for streets,” Burns said. “They might if it's linked to an economic development project. We tried that with Amity but we didn't get it. There are some areas of the city that are in the Community Development Block Grant target area, so it's possible we could get CDBG funding for some of those streets. We'd have to compete with every project in Kent County for those funds, but there is a possibility there.”
Burns said that certain streets will be repaired because the water and sewer infrastructure beneath them is scheduled for replacement.
“There are projects that can be done,” Burns said. “Basically, what can happen is, if we have to do a water and sewer project that requires street repairs, those will probably get done because we can use water and sewer funds for those. Monroe will get done, the water and sewer work and the street will get done. Because we have water and sewer work on Washington, that will definitely get done. We'll be able to utilize water and sewer funds for those. When all is said and done, we should be able to do those with the money we have.”
There will still be some work done on city streets next year.
“The next ones for sure are Suffolk, Howard and Elizabeth, from the school to Hudson,” Burns said. “Also Riverside from Main St. to right around where Lowell Light & Power is, that will get done as well. Those are going to get done in 2020.”