City council approves mayor's road repair proposal

Published: Dec. 18, 2018 at 6:27 PM CST
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Residents who live in neighborhoods that weren't originally owned by the city can likely expect to keep paying out of pocket for street repairs.

Mayor Jean Stothert's proposal to take more of the cost burden off homeowners passed the city council on Tuesday, but those who opposed the plan said it doesn't go far enough.

"This is a time when you need to spend the taxpayers' money for the good," homeowner Peggy Heck said.

She was one of the voices of opposition at a public hearing held Tuesday on the mayor's proposal to contribute to fixing streets in annexed areas, but not pay for all of it.

Robert Peterson owns a home in Elkhorn. He said that when his neighborhood was built they followed regulations and shouldn't have to continue paying out of pocket for street maintenance.

"We paid for them and we just want some maintenance for them like everyone else," Peterson said.

Under the new plan, homeowners wanting their streets repaired will continue having to apply to share costs with the city.

Of the two council members to vote no on the proposal, Vinny Palermo was the most outspoken.

"We can do this and we can do this without a tax increase very easily," the councilman said.

He believes the city is responsible for paying for street repairs.

Palermo said the city should return to having workers use the asphalt leftover in their trucks at the end of the day to make repairs where needed instead of dumping it off back at city works.

"What we need to do is stop handcuffing our city employees on what the job is that they have in front of them, and that's to fix the roads no matter what they are. Concrete, asphalt, paver, unimproved... it doesn't matter. That's our responsibility and that's at the end of the day what it should be," he said.

Mayor Stothert said the asphalt Palermo is referring to is being recycled into hot asphalt to use in the winter instead of cold patches.

"I think what we're doing now is far superior than taking the asphalt at the end of the day and throwing it in a few potholes," Stothert said.

Council members urged the mayor to look for more ways of funding in the future, recognizing that this is a $300,000 problem.