Dwindling street improvement account has Rifle considering new funding options | PostIndependent.com

Dwindling street improvement account has Rifle considering new funding options

Construction taking place in downtown Rifle in 2021.
Ray K. Erku/Citizen Telegram

If the city of Rifle plans to replace aging roadways originally installed during the 1980s oil-boom era, it first has to figure out how to replenish its dwindling street improvement fund.

The fund currently sits at $2.4 million, enough to cover about two years’ worth of expenditures. Meanwhile, deficit spending for roadway maintenance and capital projects ranges anywhere from $100,000 to $350,000.

Street improvement funds, used to support roadway maintenance and replacement, have declined for various reasons, Rifle City Council members speculated during a Wednesday workshop. Growing population and heavier traffic are some suspected reasons why.

“We have a lot more traffic going through our city streets,” council member Alicia Gresley said.

Rifle City Engineer Craig Spaulding presented various plans to City Council to replace or rebuild streets, as well as what the city will do to maintain them. Project costs ranged from $1.25 million to $1.9 million, depending on what the city opts to conduct among things like crack sealing and surface treatment.

But since the street improvement fund, which is completely supported by a half-cent sales tax, isn’t keeping up with maintenance costs, Spaulding said the city will either have to replenish the account by reallocating funds from a different account or, as a last resort, ask voters to pass a tax increase.

“If this were a business, you’d either need to spend less or make more,” Spaulding said. “And the infrastructure that we have is what we have, so spending less isn’t an option.”

According to city documents, the city looks to complete at least 28 roadway and infrastructure projects by 2040. Spaulding said some of the projects can be supported through grant funding.

Spaulding said the plan is to offer a more interactive layout of capital plans during a future workshop.

Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or rerku@citizentelegram.com.

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