Maintaining Rochester’s streets and sidewalks for the next 50 years will cost an estimated $1.1 billion.
To reach that amount, annual funding would start at $3 million and increase by $800,000 each year to keep the city’s pavement in current condition, according to a report that will be presented to the Rochester City Council on Monday.
A similar proposal met with some skepticism during an earlier council discussion
“I think we have to keep an eye on what we can actually maintain,” Council Member Nick Campion said during a May 13 council meeting, noting property values likely won’t keep up with proposed tax levy increases.
However, a study by Rochester-based WSB & Associates indicates current funding strategies aren’t keeping pace with future pavement needs. Where today’s streets are rated an average of 79 on a 100-point scale, the study predicts the rating would drop to less than 14 if funding practices don’t change.
Within years, a $1.6 million annual funding gap could emerge.
Under the proposed funding increases, the 2024 budget would include $7 million for street maintenance, but the city’s current path for projected budget growth indicates $5.4 million will be available.
Several options will be discussed Monday for filling the potential funding gap. Among them are increasing reliance on the property tax levy, increasing assessments for street and sidewalk work, using a mix of added taxes and assessments, implementing new franchise fees and creating sidewalk improvement districts.
Using the tax levy would require a 1 percent increase for every $750,000 needed to fill funding gaps.
The funding could also be generated by assessing more property owners for work done on streets and sidewalks. While this is done for many projects today, the practice would increase, which could spur challenges.
Combining the two options, which the city does today, would likely require increases in the tax levy and assessments.
The city also could consider franchise agreements with private utility companies for their use of public-owned right-of-way. The cost of the fee is typically passed to utility customers through their bills.
Sidewalk improvement districts could also be created, which would spread the cost of sidewalk repairs and upgrades across several years of assessments, rather than solely relying on adjacent property owners to fund the work.
The council is expected to weigh in on potential funding options Monday, with city staff planning to return with potential policy revisions at a future meeting.