by Michelle Millet
Walk outside your front door, ride your bike on the greenbelt or drive anywhere in Davis and one thing is clear, our paved surfaces are in need of repair. Because previous city councils balanced their budgets without setting aside money to pay for these infrastructure needs, the city does not have the funding necessary to fix our crumbling sidewalk, bike paths and roads.
Last Tuesday, City Councilmember Brett Lee made a motion to put a $48-per-year per parcel tax on the November ballot. The revenue generated from the tax would have been earmarked specifically for the repair and maintenance of our sidewalk, bike paths and roads.
Unfortunately, Lee did not get support from his council colleagues on this motion.
Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis said that before the public was presented with a parcel tax, a fuller accounting of the city’s infrastructure needs should be determined.
Councilmembers Lucas Frerichs and Rochelle Swanson expressed concern that there was not enough public support for passage of a parcel tax, which requires a two-thirds majority. They also said they are unsure whether they want a tax that addresses only road repairs instead of one that also includes funding for recreational infrastructure costs, like tennis court repairs or the construction of a 50-meter competition pool complex.
Ultimately, the council voted to put the decision off until spring, a decision I believe is a mistake. Waiting to fund the roads ultimately will cost taxpayers more money.
In 2013, the city received a pavement management report that claimed that if Davis did not immediately spend $150 million on road maintenance, it soon would be facing a $444 million deficit due to the exponential cost associated with delaying road repairs. The longer we wait, the more it will cost, and these costs will continue to rise at an exponential rate.
I believe mixing the costs associated with vital infrastructure and amenities in one tax measure is unfair to voters. While these amenities make Davis such a wonderful place to live, I don’t think people should be forced to pay for them in order to have functional sidewalks, bike paths and roads.