Council to consider asking for .25% streets tax renewal

SALEM — City council will consider whether to ask voters this fall to renew the .25 percent additional income tax for another five years to do more street work.

City council’s Committee of the Whole agreed Monday to forward a proposed ordinance to council to consider placing the renewal question on the November ballot this year.

The tax was first approved in 2015 for five years and expires at the end of 2020. Mayor John Berlin said the tax is expected to generate $6.5 million by the end of the five years. Voters approved the tax for a specific purpose, for improving streets, alleys, sidewalks, curbs and storm sewers, and the city has done many, many streets since then, including a few alleys and storm sewers.

“We have done great things with that money so far and have more to do,” Councilwoman Cyndi Baronzzi Dickey said.

Dickey chairs the Committee of the Whole and said there have been discussions of other streets that need done, plus they want to maintain what they’ve done so far. She said they don’t want the streets to fall back into disrepair.

Berlin provided the committee with estimates for what it would cost to do the balance of streets left, with an estimate of $7,674,000 for concrete street repairs and $3,849,000 for asphalt streets for repaving, bringing the total to about $11 million.

That doesn’t include the 34 miles of alleys, some of which remain gravel in some spots. He estimated that would cost a couple million dollars more.

Councilman Geoff Goll said he thinks the citizens are pleased with the administration and would like to give the citizens a chance to review what’s been done and to continue the work by placing the additional tax back on the ballot for another five years.

“I think the way we did it was received well,” Councilman Roy Paparodis said.

Councilman Steve Faber asked the mayor if it was possible for some of the concrete streets to be blacktopped. Berlin said the city is actually doing that on some of the streets this year and that could reduce the cost for concrete street repairs once they see how those streets hold up.

The tax proposal will now go to council for consideration.