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Bublak: More City funds needed for roads
council preview pic
Turlock Vice Mayor Amy Bublak wants to appropriate $100,000 of General Fund dollars to road repairs. - photo by Journal file photo

Vice Mayor Amy Bublak wants to double the amount of money the City of Turlock allocates to be spent on fixing the city's roadways. The City Council will consider Bublak's request on Tuesday for an annual appropriation of a minimum of $100,000 dedicated to local roadway improvements.

"I think the streets are just continuing to deteriorate and Turlock needs to improve them. I would have voted yes on the countywide roadway measure had it included more Turlock roadway improvement needs. I want our citizens to know regardless of the outcome of the countywide tax measure, Turlock is making every attempt to prioritize street maintenance and repairs," said Bublak at the June 28 Council meeting, when she requested the roadway appropriation be placed on the Council's next agenda.

At their June 14 meeting the City Council voted, 4-1, with Bublak opposing, to support the Stanislaus Council of Government's expenditure plan for a countywide half-cent sales tax measure that would bring $960 million or approximately $38 million per year for road repair across Stanislaus County.

The countywide sales tax expenditure plan calls for 50 percent of the funds to be designated for local streets and roads and would mean funding for a number of Turlock roadway projects including the construction of a new intersection at West Main Street, 18 new traffic signals at major intersections throughout the city, multiple Safe Routes to Schools projects improving safety for children, and 1,062 individual local road improvement projects.

Although Mayor Gary Soiseth, who is Turlock's representative on the Stanislaus Council of Governments, has been an advocate for the countywide sales tax, he also supported Bublak's request for the City Council to consider appropriating more City funds to fix roads.

If the Council decides to appropriate the $100K, they will have to decide from where in the General Fund to take the money. There is also a question on how effective that amount of money will be in fixing Turlock's failing roads and if City staff would have the time to make further road improvements.

According to a City staff report, $100K would cover 3/4 mile of slurry seal, 1/4 mile micro surfacing, 1/5 mile asphalt rubber cape seal, 1/10 mile overlay and 1/20 mile reconstruction.

In June 2015, the Council appropriated $50,000 in the budget to complete improvements to unspecified roadways, but the money was never spent due to City staff having to devote their efforts to time-sensitive projects with over $1.63 million in grant funding that could potentially be lost if deadlines were missed. Those projects included Montana Park, Bernell sidewalks and the Fulkerth Road and Golden State Boulevard intersection.

The primary funding for roadway improvements over the past five years has come from either excise and sales tax generated from fuel purchases (Local Transportation Fund and Gas Tax) or federal Surface Transportation Program funds. The state fuel excise and sales tax funds are fully used for operational and maintenance costs, supporting street lighting, signalized intersection lights, pot hole repair, roadway striping, median maintenance as well as being used as matching funds on federally funded projects.

The STP funds are dedicated on a project-by-project basis and can only be used for roadways classified as an expressway (like Christoffersen Parkway), arterial (Monte Vista Avenue) or collector (South Avenue) on the California Roadway System map.

Also, if voters pass the countywide sales tax, any City funding allocated to roadway maintenance and repairs must continue and may not be supplanted by the tax dollars.

On Tuesday, the Council is also expected to:

Receive a transit project update from Mayor's Public Policy Award recipient, Josephine Hazelton;Receive an update on the Joint Apprenticeship Committee on the Special Events Emergency Action Plan;View a video presentation and equipment display from Turlock Fire Chief Robert Talloni;Consider approving the 25-year review of the 45-year franchise agreement between the City of Turlock and Turlock Scavenger Company for the provision of refuse, garden refuse and recyclable material collection, alley tree trimming and street sweeping.

The Turlock City Council will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Yosemite Room at City Hall, 156 S. Broadway.