Farmington officials begin road millage conversation

It likely won’t come this year, but Farmington officials have begun talking about how to raise more money for road repairs.

At a special meeting Monday, consultant Matt Parks of OHM Advisors presented a report that shows road conditions are deteriorating at a slightly faster rate than was anticipated by a 2013 study. Roads are ranked with the PASER (Pavement Surface Evaluation and Rating) assessment on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being freshly minted pavement and 1, beyond repair.

Three years ago, roads were rated 5.5 overall, which Parks described as “not great, but not terrible.” The city’s road millage generates $300,000 annually, and using a predictive software, Parks said, continuing to spend that amount would result in a rating drop to 4.5 by 2023. However, the average has already slipped to where it was forecasted to be in 2017.

Public works director Chuck Eudy said the city has been doing only basic maintenance, and not spending the entire road millage, because repair costs have skyrocketed over the last several years. In addition, many contractors are tied up with the state’s I-275 reconstruction project, and the contractor shortage also affects costs. The city is also preparing for a significant mill and overlay project on Freedom Road.

“It sounds to me as though there’s a big disconnect between all the pretty graphs …and what’s really happening on the ground,” council member Steve Schneemann said. “I’m more interested in the decisions we’re really making.”

Eudy said he is putting together information about past practices, current recommendations, and finances, which will be presented at a later date. Parks said the city may have financing options, such as coordinating road repairs with water and sewer projects.

Mayor Bill Galvin asked how much time city officials would need to put a millage request in front of voters; city clerk Sue Halberstat said about six months. The window had passed for August and was closing soon for the November election, she said.

“We need to get the dialogue rolling on a regular basis over the next few meetings,” Galvin said.