Terry Scott For Benicia City Council Infrastructure
Our City streets for the most part are just plain bad. There’s a lot of reasons why including the lack of proper funding which leads to neglect which leads us to a lot of roads needing a lot of work. The City currently is diligently working to do what they can with the dollars that they have but it’s not enough. We need to be creative.
I believe this is an opportunity for the City to look outside the box. One idea is to partner with Vallejo and create a regionalized road repair initiative where equipment and personnel can be shared to expressly fix our streets. This might provide opportunity for both communities to share personnel and equipment and start tackling this problem.
Secondly, I propose, either hiring or engaging full-time grant writers to find State and Federal Highway Administration grants that can help subsidize the City’s available resources.
Water and Sewer Rates
Like roads, water and sewer rates command most of the conversation around town. The kick-the-can history of previous Councils has brought us to where we are today. Increased water rates, increased sewer wastewater rates. And on top of that, a $12 bimonthly water meter replacement fee. All of these cost increases began at the same time in summer 2016. That plan was at the very least, a result of very, very poor planning.
At this point, rates have been frozen because of COVID-19. Unfortunately, we are in this situation and the only method of lowering rates would be the result of a tremendous economic expansion. Additional sales tax revenue into the General Fund might be used to offset individual wastewater rates. We know, that is not going to happen immediately. Perhaps once we are stable, we could look at how revenue into the General Fund might offset fees.
In addition to poor planning, we need to understand the cost of maintaining our own treatment plant and the rising pensions and cost of our many workers. That will have future impact on total wastewater costs.
Again, as noted, there is the possibility that the State and Federal Government may be moving forward with major capital improvement funding programs for cities in 2021. Working with the City or consulting grant writers could provide some relief by using State and Federal money to support the Capital Improvements budget required to maintain our system. Less money required to maintain the system could result in lower wastewater rates.