Wellston Safety/Service Director Bill Shumate recently addressed with members of Wellston City Council a report that rates each street in the city with regard to damages and which also outlines the cost of paving each of those streets.
Shumate stated during the Thursday night, July 5 meeting that each councilperson has their own copy of this report and that a large laminated version of the report will soon be posted within the City Building for citizens to review as well. In all, the report, which was compiled using Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) specifications, concludes that it would cost approximately $6,143,685.39 to pave each of Wellston's streets.
"To be clear, that figure is just for paving," Councilwoman Taylor Rose stated. "That's not curb and gutter, that's not storm sewer, that's not water lines and that's not relocating gas lines."
Shumate agreed, stating that cost represents only placing asphalt on damaged roads. He continued by mentioning that a number of places in the city where the existing asphalt is broken tend to hold water following a rain event. During winter months, Shumate said that water then makes its way under the roadways and the subsequent freezing and thawing causes the asphalt to break.
"We really need to do something with the water getting on our roads," Shumate said. "You cannot have water going under the asphalt in Southern Ohio in the winter."
Another issue Shumate addressed regarding rainwater is the fact that following large storms, water has been infiltrating the city's sanitary sewer system. He said this is yet another project that is under way, but also one that is not an easy fix.
With regard to repairing city streets, Shumate told council that one portion of the report addresses the need to seal cracks in some of the streets that are not considered to be in the worst shape.
"We were told to make sure our good roads are sealed and taken care of so we don't lose them," Shumate said. "So, when people ask, 'why are they working on good roads?' That's why."
City Auditor Chris Dupree said the report was "wonderful" as it provides interested citizens a visual aid to help explain the city's financial situation with regard to street repairs. He further stated that many people have inquired about what money generated from the city's street levy is used for. Dupree explained the city's one-mill street levy generates less than $150,000 annually. He then posed the question of how long it would take to make over $6 million of repairs using less than $150,000 a year.
"That's why you save that money for matching grants through the state," Dupree said.
In that same vein, Councilwoman Rose asked Shumate what the city's match was for the ongoing State Route 327 paving project. Shumate said the amount was roughly $145,000.
"Nearly an entire year's worth of the street levy revenue went to one project," Rose said. "I just wanted to clarify how much money is generated and where it's going."
City Engineer Tim Wojdacz also pointed out that there are projects undertaken where the costs are 100 percent borne by the city. Near the end of this talking point, Mayor Connie Pelletier stated the City of Wellston's checking account information is available for view online through OhioCheckbook.com.