LAFAYETTE -- Residents who gave the city more than $23,450 to fix roads that received city-funded pavement treatments are getting their money back.
Lafayette council members publicly apologized Monday about the roads, then voted to refund money collected last month from residents for remedial "slurry seal" treatments that were applied to nine streets that received chip seals as part of the annual pavement construction program.
The city began issuing refund checks Thursday, Administrative Services Director Tracy Robinson said.
More than 100 residents agreed in July to contribute the money after staffers offered to apply the slurry seal to improve the roads. The city spent $227,000 on the initial paving and asked residents to split the cost of the additional treatment.
The chip seals were applied to 20 residential roads identified by the city as "failed" because of extensive pavement cracking. Those streets did not have broken pavement or potholes. The idea, according to a staff report, was to preserve the existing roads and extend their service life for another five years or so with mats of rubberized liquid asphalt and rock chips.
But a few days after the treatment, angry residents vented their frustrations to city staffers, saying the gravel-like seals had left their streets in worse shape and made them challenging for children and seniors.
On Monday, residents expressed outrage at being asked to help pay for the slurry seals. Some asked the council for their money back.
"Money paid by people who upgraded in this extortion-type of process should be repaid," said one resident who also blasted the city for not providing samples of the chip seal surface before the treatment.
Some residents decried the streets' appearance and their impact on property values, and said neighborhood roads that typically buzzed with activity were now quiet.
Others suggested some city staffers take pay cuts, with the money saved redirected toward roads.
Vice Mayor Don Tatzin explained that the city's goal was to extend the life of failing roads, and said the additional slurry seal layer offered some improvement. Still, he apologized for a result he said was not acceptable to residents.
"That was certainly never the intent to give you a road that wound up being in worse shape than when we began," Tatzin said.
He also defended staffers' decision to offer the slurry seal, which he said came up during a break between council meetings.
"Staff, I think, acted appropriately within the discretion they have to try and figure out how to make amends," Tatzin said. "They don't have the authority to go and spend the kind of money that it would have taken to approve a slurry seal for all the streets that were affected."
In addition to issuing the refunds, the city will fund the slurry seal application for the remaining streets that currently have only the chip seal. The additional work will cost $57,000 and come from general fund reserves.
The city has estimated it will cost $13.5 million to rebuild 81 roads. Lafayette's total annual general fund budget is $11 million, 40 percent of which is spent on police services, according to city data.