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Roads top issue at final public forum
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The City of Turlock held the last of four critical issues public forums  at Pitman High on Thursday, with road repairs — and how to pay for them — being the most popular topic.

Although attendance for the initial meetings was low, around 20 community members attended Thursday's session, all looking for answers to their questions.

When repairs would be done to Turlock's pot hole riddled streets was the most asked question.

According to a 2008 Infrastructure Management Service survey, Turlock scored 58 out of the possible 100 points in terms of street conditions. The report also added that only 37 percent of streets were “good” — scoring over 80 points on a scale.

 In order to maintain the level of streets the Pavement Management Program estimated that the City of Turlock needs to spend roughly $10 million annually.

Currently, Turlock is only spending $2 million.

This lack of funding has resulted in even worse road conditions and backlash from those community members who have to drive on them.

Debbie Bailey, a resident of Turlock for the last 26 years, was one of the community members who spoke about Turlock's road conditions.

“Many of the streets that I use every day have become unwalkable,” said Bailey.

In order to combat the withering streets, Bailey suggested the city adopt a parcel tax instead of sales tax that would assess those who own property in Turlock. A possible parcel tax would generate roughly $8 million dollars a year that could be used to repair and improve road conditions.

However, council member Steven Nascimento, suggested that a specialized sales tax would be more appropriate seeing as though those who visit Turlock are also contributing to the road degradation.

Nascimento argued that although a sales tax would only generate roughly $5 million of the $8 million needed for street maintenance, the remaining funds could be generated through grants that are only offered for cities who have some sort of initial pool of money.

“One of the benefits of local funds is that there are grants out there that will match the local funds in order to complete the goal,” said Nascimento.

Holly Walker, a 23 year resident of Turlock, was also in favor of a sales tax option over a parcel tax.

“I am for the sales and not the parcel tax,” said Walker. “I like that idea.”

Along with road conditions, community members also addressed the issues of inadequate lighting, safety concerns and government accountability.

Mayor John Lazar concluded the special meeting by thanking those who attended and urged community members to attend council meetings and continue to voice their opinions.

“Time is of the essence when it comes to these issues,” said Lazar. “It's our responsibility to recognize the public first.”