City slashes money for paving alleys

Funding for one of Grand Junction’s most popular public works programs is expected to be sliced in half next year, as city officials try to free up money for other capital projects while coping with falling revenue.

Public Works and Planning Director Tim Moore said the city plans to spend less than $200,000 in 2010 on its alley improvement program after spending roughly $400,000 to pave four alleys annually for the past several years.

He said officials will look at restoring the program to normal funding levels in 2011 if the economy rebounds by then.

The cuts acknowledge an “understanding of what our capital demands are,” Moore said.

Under the program, which has been in existence for about 20 years, property owners can petition the city to pave alleys that run adjacent to their property. If 51 percent of the property owners along a particular section of alley make the request, the city will estimate the cost of the work and ask the council to hire a contractor.

The city will pay for 85 percent of the cost of the paving for owners of single-family homes, 75 percent for multi-family homes and 50 percent for commercial property. Land owners make up the rest through their property tax bills.

Moore said paving alleys in concrete makes it smoother and easier for city trash trucks to perform their weekly runs and eliminates problems with dust and drainage that gravel and mud alleys can cause. The construction work also allows utility companies to underground power lines or upgrade their infrastructure simultaneously.

The program has paved a little less than half of the estimated 280 alleys within the city, according to Moore.

Public works officials originally planned to postpone the program altogther next year but will instead recommend to the council that it honor two petitions the city received.

The city has drastically reduced its capital spending in the last few years, primarily because large projects like Riverside Parkway and the Independent Ranchmen’s Ditch flood-control project have been completed. But, particularly for 2010, it’s also because sales-tax revenue is in its greatest year-to-year decline in 25 years. That revenue makes up the biggest source of funding for the city.


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