MORAGA -- Officials are moving ahead with a plan to fast track road repairs two months after voters approved a 1-cent sales tax increase to fund them.
After a lengthy debate over two financing options, the town council on Wednesday agreed to borrow money to repair neighborhood roads. Two firms will be hired to oversee financing a potentially $7 million bond that -- along with Measure K proceeds not committed to debt service, and Gas Tax and Measure J funds -- will allow the town to rapidly improve the condition of its infamously poor roads.
Council members chose the borrowing option over a "pay-as-you-go" approach that called for allocating $1.25 million of sales tax revenue and other funds toward road maintenance annually.
In that scenario, the "pavement condition index" of Moraga's neighborhood roads would fluctuate between 45 and 50 for Measure K's 20-year life, according to a staff report. The entire network of public roads would range from 49 and 52.
The index ranges from "0" for an impassable road to "100" for a brand new road.
Under the bond plan, if the town were to apply about $9.4 million toward road maintenance for three years, residents could expect to see better roads more quickly. The town would then pay $650,000 annually for maintenance during the remaining 17 years of the additional sales tax.
In 2012, the PCI of Moraga's neighborhood roads was 46, a rating the Metropolitan Transportation Commission
"If we were to do a pay-as-you-go, our residents are not going to see as much change in their streets," Public Works Director Edric Kwan told officials. "But if we were to bond it up front, we will see significant change in the pavement condition in our neighborhood streets."
Councilman Ken Chew seemed skeptical of that assertion, arguing that under either scenario, the PCI would end up "pretty much the same" whether the town decided to fund the maintenance up front or pay as it goes.
He also questioned the overall cost of bonding, which will be about $13 million with interest, according to Eileen Gallagher of Stone & Youngberg, one of the two firms the town will be working with on the financing.
But he decided to join council members Roger Wykle, Phil Arth, Mike Metcalf and Mayor Dave Trotter in supporting borrowing the money after hearing from Kwan about a major benefit.
"It will help eat away at some of the deferred maintenance costs we've accumulated over the many years of lack of maintenance," Kwan said.
The council also approved a $129.900 contract with Richmond-based Nichols Consulting Engineers to work on the 2013 Pavement Repair Project to address certain roads. Officials estimate the project will cost $3.15 million, which will be funded with Measure K bond money and other sources.