City seeks street levy renewal

EDITOR’S NOTE: In the Dec. 1 edition of the Miami Valley Sunday News, the article “City seeks renewal of street levy” incorrectly stated the street levy was first implemented in 2011. It has actually been in place since 1991. The Miami Valley Today regrets this error.

PIQUA — The Piqua City Commission approved a resolution to bring a renewal of the city’s 0.25 percent income tax for street infrastructure projects before voters on the March 17 ballot during its meeting on Tuesday evening.

The commission approved sending the initiative to the Miami County Board of Elections to place this renewal levy on the ballot during the March primary election for voters to consider for another 10-year period to begin Jan. 1, 2021.

“This money is strictly for the reconstruction and resurfacing of our roadways in the city,” City Engineer Amy Havenar said. “If we could continue with this, we will be able to continue with our progress we have made so far with our resurfacing and (reconstructions).”

The 0.25 percent portion of the city’s income tax generates approximately $1 million per year for streets. The city has also been able to complete over 117 lane miles of resurfacing for approximately $6.7 million. Havenar noted that a lane mile is 12 feet wide, so wider streets would take up more space.

The city has been able to use these funds to complete the following street projects: the East Ash Street reconstruction, the Wayne Street streetscape, the County Road 25-A phase 2 and phase 3 reconstructions, the College Street signal project, the Fountain Park bridge rehabilitation project, the Safe Routes to School project, the North Main Street streetscape project, the Commercial Street connector project, the Garbry-Looney roundabout project, and the East Ash Street separated bike lane project.

Havenar also said the city utilizes these funds to leverage grant money for street infrastructure projects, providing the local match for various grant opportunities.

“Since 2010, we have been able to secure over $14 million in (grant) funding to match this approximate $13 million we’re collecting,” Havenar said.

Without the street levy, the city would only be able to do routine maintenance, like pothole patching, with little to no resurfacing.

Bill Jaqua of Piqua disagreed with the terminology of calling the levy a renewal. Jaqua also asked why the city could not make do without it. Mayor Kazy Hinds responded, saying the city streets need attention and improvements. City Manager Gary Huff also added the city also does street repairs through the Public Works Department, which focuses on alleys, small sections of roadway, and pot holes.

Dave Hitchings of Piqua also spoke, saying the street levy did not seem to be enough.

“The streets are a mess,” Hitchings said. “This tax renewal is not keeping up.”

Huff agreed that it is not, explaining that it is why the city uses those funds to seek grant opportunities. He said the cost of resurfacing Looney Road would use up all of the funds generated in one year if the city did not have grant funding to go with the project.

Also during this meeting, the commission held the second readings of two ordinances, including one to make appropriations for the city for 2020 and one to make annual updates to the Piqua Code in regard to employee vacation and insurance.

The commission also approved purchase orders to Chemical Services, Inc., Sal Chemical, Matheson Tri-Gas, Inc., Carus LLC, Greer Lime Company, and the city of Dayton for the 2020 purchase of various water treatment chemicals. Approximately $367,410 is budgeted for this expenditure for 2020.