Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868
October 09, 2012
FALLS CITY -- The Falls City Council will be discussing whether to include a "transportation utility fee" (TUF) as a possible funding option for future street maintenance and improvements at its meeting Thursday.
The discussion won't be addressing whether to implement a TUF now, but adding the fee as a funding option in the city's forthcoming transportation system plan, said City Administrator Amber Mathiesen.
"The reason we are asking is because there is a considerable amount of work to develop (fee) methodology," Mathiesen said. "Basically, the question is whether we want to do the extra work."
Similar to water and sewer use fees, a TUF would be charged to city residents and businesses based on usage -- in this case, trip counts -- as a way to pay for street improvements and maintenance. It would likely be a monthly charge.
If the council approves including a TUF, a specific fee structure would be included in the plan, though nothing has been decided.
"We won't be getting into the dollars and cents issues until much later," Mathiesen said.
FCS Group, a financial consulting firm, recommended considering the fee in an analysis of the city's street funding options.
Currently, the city's street maintenance is paid for with state gas tax revenues -- totaling about $45,600 in 2011-12 -- and a small transfer from the city's general fund.
According to the analysis, the general fund transfer is not sustainable in the long run as city resources continue to be stretched.
Grants, while a possibility, may be problematic because many require matching funds that would be difficult for the city to pay for, Mathiesen said.
"FCS is recommending a TUF as at least an option because other funding sources would be limited," she said.
Furthermore, Mathiesen said the street fund's current resources doesn't meet the city's maintenance needs.
"It provides very limited maintenance," she said. "We've gotten help from Weyerhaeuser (on roads it uses frequently). Without that assistance, we would fall even further behind."
Mathiesen said the council may make a determination Thursday about including the fee as a funding option, but nothing more.
"Whether the fee is later implemented will be a separate discussion," she said.