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PA streets topic of joint EDC/Council meeting

 

 

In a joint meeting Tuesday, Port Arthur’s Economic Development Corporation introduced a plan to City Council to offer a portion of its budget for the maintenance and repair of city streets.

EDC Director Floyd Batiste said the EDC is proposing to repurpose one-eighth of the half cent it gets from sales tax revenue for city streets.

The matter would have to be approved by voters, but first City Council and the EDC board has to officially sign off on the plan.

The EDC has proposed setting aside money for a period of four years. The amount of sales tax money available for street repairs would depend on how much sales tax is generated in the city. Based on current levels, the EDC’s contribution to city streets would be about $4.5 to $5 million over the four-year period.

While city and EDC board members expressed a desire to improve streets, several members voiced concerns that repairs should be lasting.

“My concern now is how do we make sure the work is done so we are not coming back later on and having to redo,” EDC board member Richard Wycoff said. “We don’t have a problem with giving you money to do things, but want to make sure the work is done first class.”

Procter Street, he said, was improved about four years ago, and is now caving in

City Manager Brian McDougal said he has seen Procter Street, and was not happy with the repairs made.

McDougal cautioned both boards to remember that $4 million will not go that far when it comes to fixing city streets.

“We need to pick projects that are visible,” he said.

District 5 Councilman Willie “Bae” Lewis said the city had been asked to match the EDC funding, and thought it could do so over a four-year period.

EDC board member Pat Holmes said when making street repaired, contract warranties should be scrutinized.

If the plan gets the go-ahead, the EDC funding would be available for both residential and commercial streets, anywhere there is vehicular traffic.

City Councilwoman Tiffany Hamilton cautioned the board to “stay in our lane when it comes to which streets.”

The city manager and staff should determine which streets should be included in the EDC fix plan, she said.

It was also suggested that a soil test be performed before a street is put on the repair list to determine whether the base is sufficient for reconstruction.

The EDC board will vote whether to make a formal recommendation at their Dec. 7 meeting.

The City Council has not set a date to vote on whether to put the matter on the May ballot.

E-mail: sherry.koonce@panews.com

Twitter: skooncePANews