Editor’s note: There are two 0.15 percent municipal income tax levies that will be presented to Sidney voters on the Nov. 5 ballot. This article focuses on the street levy. The fire levy was addressed in Wednesday’s paper, on Oct. 29.
SIDNEY — Registered voters who live within the city of Sidney are being asked to approve the 0.15 percent municipal earned income tax street levy on the Tuesday, Nov. 5, ballot. The five-year levy will provide funding for streets, bridge and traffic signal work.
If approved by voters, the new levy will replace the five-year 0.25 percent levy for street maintenance that will expire Dec. 31, 2019. The 0.15 percent would run from January 2020 to December 2024.
The street levy will be presented alone on Election Day after being separated from the fire levy. The 0.30 percent levy, which combined streets and fire needs, was presented on the ballot in May. It was defeated by voters.
“After the combined levy failed in May,” Sidney Mayor Mike Barhorst said, “City Council again debated whether to put both issues on the ballot independent of each other or place a single issue on the ballot. The feedback council members received was the issues should be split, allowing each issue to stand or fail on its own. As a result there will be two issues on the November ballot.”
Sidney citizens identified infrastructure, and police and fire safety, as top priorities when polled earlier this year, Mayor Mike Barhorst said in May when asked why voters should vote “Yes.”
“We have identified about $24 million additional streets, bridge and traffic signal work over the next five years. Without the levy it leaves about $17 million in projects that still needs to be funded. And we hope to get about $7 million in grants,” Assistant City Manager/Public Works Director Gary Clough said.
With passage of the street levy, he said, it is anticipated there will be $15.1 million collected to complete street projects.
The first street projects were completed during the summer 2015. Clough noted some streets were in such terrible condition in 2015 when construction began, they were rated in the 30s.
There is still about 40 miles, or 35 percent, of Sidney roads that have not been worked on over the last eight years, he said during a recent Sidney City Council meeting. Some of those roads are in good shape, and some need repairs. But other roads that were first repaired in 2011 are reaching the end of their “useful life” and will need repaired again soon.
The city’s pavement condition rating (PCR) at the end of 2019 is 72, Clough said; the goal is between 75 and 80.
If the levy does not pass, Clough stressed the city will begin to fall behind on street repairs again, as was the case prior to the 2014 levy passing, over an eight-year period.
The levy will cost taxpayers $1.50 per $1.000 of income. For a person earning $35,000, that’s around $4.38 per month or $52.50 a year.
The levy applies only to municipal taxable income for people who work or live in the city of Sidney. It does not tax Social Security, pensions, retirement incomes, investments, disability or interest income.
Responding to some of the recent comments heard from those who were fortunate enough to have their road fixed in the last five years and are questioning why they should vote for the levy, Clough said if their road needs paved again, the city will not be able to get it taken care of because there are other roads that still needs fixed.
“We have worked very hard for a five-year period to bring the streets back up to a condition that is acceptable. Streets that we haven’t gotten to yet still need fixed so they are acceptable. And we’ve got to make a long-term commitment to maintain these roads so the community is satisfied with their conditions. Without this levy that would be difficult to do,” Clough said in May.
“We’ve made good progress on the city streets, but we need to continue that progress so that we can have all city streets on a regular maintenance schedule,” Barhorst said.
The street levy presentation can be found by clicking the Oct. 14 City Council agenda packets link on the city of Sidney’s documents webpage at https://sidneycityoh.documents-on-demand.com
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.