Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Media: Suisun City to pave way for street repairs

By Carol Bogart Daily Republic

SUISUN CITY - The city will likely go ahead with planned street repairs in the summer even if the state withholds money the city counts on to pay for the work.

The city typically spends $150,000 annually to maintain its streets, using its share of gas tax revenue to cover the costs, financial services manager Mark Joseph said.

The state normally sends gas tax payments to cities monthly. In Suisun City's case, the tax provides $40,000 to $45,000 each month, Joseph said. Now, however, the state is in fiscal crisis and may exercise its option to defer those payments for six months.

'The (City) Council does not want to defer the street repairs,' Joseph said. 'The city is in the process of getting summer road projects going.'

Suisun City's streets ranked among the worse in the Bay Area in a three-year survey published by the Metro Transportation Commission in 2005.

'Our streets need a lot of attention,' Councilman Mike Hudson said.

Provided the state has adopted its budget by August, it would forward the deferred gas tax payments to cities in September.

To do the work this summer, Suisun City can tap its cash reserve funds that currently total about $6 million, Joseph said. When the state forwards the deferred gas tax payments, the city would then replenish its cash reserves.

Joseph isn't counting on the state adopting its budget by August.

'That doesn't even happen in good times,' he said.

Compounding the issue is that the city won't earn interest on the deferred state money, Joseph said. The state will keep the interest the deferred payments earn.

'It's good to be king,' Joseph quipped.

The League of California Cities may address the issue in the fall if cities don't receive the money in September, he added.

Having to wait for the money 'wouldn't kill us, but it would make us really grumpy,' Joseph said.

Going ahead with summer slurry sealing could have an advantage for the city.

With the economy slumping, more companies may bid for the work and that could lower costs, Joseph said. But the high price of oil could mean oil-based asphalt will be more expensive and erase any savings, he added.

Reach Carol Bogart at 427-6955 or at

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