ORINDA -- Several years after rejecting two bond measures to pay for road repairs, voters are once again being asked to help pay for the repair and maintenance of the city's roads and storm drains.
The city council this week adopted an ordinance calling for voters to consider a $20 million bond measure in the June 3 primary election. The bonds would supplement other funds, including gas tax revenues, Measure J funds and proceeds from Measure L. The latter is a half-cent sales tax approved by voters in November 2012, its revenues used by the city to pay for road and storm drain repair and maintenance.
If approved by a two-thirds majority of voters, the measure will allow the city to sell a $10 million bond in July and a second $10 million bond in July 2017 to finance repairs.
"You could do a $20 million issue all up front, but that's a lot of work that's got to get done in a three-year period. That may not be realistic," said underwriter and financial adviser Jim Cervantes of Stifel, Nicolaus and Co., which is advising the city.
The bonds will be paid for by residents through a tax on assessed property value. The estimated principle and interest over the 20-year term of the proposed bond is $30.6 million.
According to the city's financial advisers, the first bond issue is estimated to cost taxpayers an average of $16.33 per $100,000 of assessed valuation. That calculation assumes a 4.39 percent average increase in assessed property values each year. The median assessed value of single family homes in Orinda is currently around $650,362.
The measure is the second phase in a 10-year city plan to fix storm drains and roads rated as some of the Bay Area's worst.
It follows the Measure L half-cent sales tax, which is estimated to bring in about $1 million annually before sunsetting in 2022. It also precedes another $20 million bond measure or parcel tax officials hope to place before voters in 2018.
The plan's final phase calls for voters to extend the half-cent sales tax in 2024 to provide funds for ongoing maintenance.
Through the plan, the city is hoping to raise the overall quality of Orinda's roads to "good" condition as defined by the industry standard "pavement condition index." In 2012, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission rated Orinda's road network as having an overall PCI of 50, with its residential roads rating 38, or "poor."
The city estimated in 2012 it would cost $52 million to bring Orinda's 92.5 miles of roads and storm drains up to a PCI of 70; a 2012 consultant's report estimates it would cost more than $108 million to rebuild all of the city's streets.
At least one Orindan says the new taxes won't be enough to fully fund the repairs.
Resident Steve Cohn told the council Feb. 18 that the city will need to use more than half of the $63 million raised by the 10-year plan just to maintain roads over that periods. Consultants estimated in 2012 that the city needs to spend $2.5 million each year to maintain its current overall road-quality rating.
In a subsequent letter to the council, Cohn argued that inflation would increase the maintenance amount to $3.5 million in 2015 -- $1.2 million more than what the sales tax extension is estimated to provide.
The city needs about $100, not $16.33, per $100,000 of assessed valuation to effectively address the problem, Cohn suggested in an e-mail.
On Tuesday, resident Chris Kniel urged the council to provide residents with a detailed scope of work letting them know which roads will be fixed and maintained and when, along with road repair and maintenance costs for each section of roads and drains. "This way everybody can see what their road index is now, what it's going to be in the future," Kniel said.
After a brief discussion between Director of Public Works and Engineering Services Charles Swanson and Vice Mayor Steve Glazer, the council did not pursue Kniel's request.