Mayor Rybak Outlines Significant Cuts to Street Maintenance if State Reneges on 2011 LGA Commitment
City would dramatically scale back repaying infrastructure "debt," leading to higher costs for future generations
September 2, 2010 (MINNEAPOLIS) — In a presentation to the Transportation and Public Works Committee of the City Council today, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and Public Works Director Steve Kotke outlined both the improvements to streets that the City would make under the Mayor’s proposed 2011 budget, and the significant cuts to those improvements that the City would be forced to make if the State of Minnesota does not fully deliver on its 2011 commitment of Local Government Aid to Minneapolis.
The 2011 budget that Mayor Rybak recommended to the City Council on August 16 includes an additional $9 million a year over current spending levels for five years for the purpose of tackling major pavement maintenance such as sealcoating and crack sealing, street resurfacing, and alley resurfacing and renovation. This amount includes a significant investment in residential streets. Mayor Rybak pointed out that this proposed investment comes on top of the Infrastructure Acceleration Program that he instituted in 2008, a $35-million, five-year program that will sealcoat or resurface one-third of the City’s busiest arterial streets.
Mayor Rybak said that his proposed increased investment in street improvements is necessary to catch up with the infrastructure debt that the City has incurred over the last several years as it has invested heavily in public safety. "I have said repeatedly that the story of Minneapolis over the last several years is that your streets are safer to walk down because they have potholes," he said. "When residents drive over potholes, I want them to think of them as a debt that we have passed on because we have focused on public safety."
Council Member Sandy Colvin Roy, chair of the Transportation and Public Works Committee, said, "We have done well to invest in public safety and pay down financial debt over the past several years, but the holes in our street represent a different kind of debt. It is good to see this kind of debt at the top of our agenda. The Mayor’s budget takes the aggressive action we need to start paying it down."
Mayor Rybak added, "The only thing that will keep us from starting to repay that debt is if the State of Minnesota breaks its promise to us next year."
The Mayor’s 2011 budget proposal assumes that the State of Minneapolis will live up to the Local Government Aid commitment of $87.5 million that it has made to Minneapolis in current law. However, in the past three years alone, the State has failed to honor a total $54 million in commitments of aid to Minneapolis that it had previously made.
Director Kotke presented information showing that at the level of funding Mayor Rybak has proposed in his 2011 budget, the City would be able to improve 555 miles of streets over five years, or 55% of City streets. However, should the State fail to honor its Local Government Aid commitment to Minneapolis, the City would not be able to improve 374 miles of those streets over five years, lowering the percentage of City streets it could improve to only 18%.
"The City’s streets represent a very valuable asset worth almost $3 billion, but it is an asset that must be maintained," Director Kotke said. "Preventative maintenance is money well spent when you do it at the right time in the life cycle of a street, and the average condition of our streets is at a point where if we do not invest in maintaining them right now, they will start to deteriorate considerably." Director Kotke added that the cost of doing preventative maintenance such as sealcoating on an average street is typically one-tenth of the cost of resurfacing it.
"We have a serious need, and this budget meets it responsibly," Director Kotke added. "We have to preserve our streets now, or it will cost us considerably more do to so in the future."
The slide presentation that Mayor Rybak and Director Kotke presented to the Council committee is available here: /mayor/news/20100903_docs_01-2011-budget-tpw-presentation
Published Sep. 2, 2010