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⇒There are two questions on the ballot. One question for the property tax and one for the sales tax. ⇒Both questions need to pass in order to do the long-range plan. Failure of one question will mean the reconstruction/repair of four roads.
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ANSWER - ODOT’s County Improvements for Roads and Bridges (CIRB) five-year plan is used to improve mostly rural County roads. This fund is used for overlay projects, mill/overlay projects while Choctaw’s is complete reconstructions. The Counties typically prefer this type of construction over full-depth reconstruction because the money can be stretched so much further and get as many roads painted black as possible. In fact, mill / overlay or resurfacing projects are typically about 20%-25% of the cost of full-depth replacement. In the County’s case, many of their roads on the County system are good candidates for these lower cost improvements, but that is not the case in Choctaw, as explained below.
With Choctaw streets specifically, the issue with “stretching the money further” and “painting as many roads black as possible” is that this would result in a much shorter life-span. In some cases we would see as little as 3 years of life expectancy due to the condition of what’s underneath (the base). As stated above, the City could have potentially gotten 3-4 times more roads resurfaced and actually went into this looking for areas that we could mill / overlay. But as a condition of the plan, the City still wanted to achieve the 20-30 year life-span goals.
To make the decision on what surface the City was going to put down, they spent considerable expense taking roadway cores of the areas scoped for improvements. However, in our case, and as the engineer stated in the public meeting, “no sections chosen for rehabilitation are candidates for a mill & overlay (resurfacing).” The City could have painted the roads black with a new surface that would last 3-5 years. The engineer said “being the best steward of public money and giving the citizens the most bang for their buck, the plan calls for roads that have a lifespan of 20-30 years.” Simply stated, what had been done in the past (overlay, mill, overlay, mill, etc.) left us no roads that were good candidates for additional mill / overlay or resurfacing without sacrificing life span.
So, rather than just paint more roads black, the City elected to construct roads that have a much longer life span and little maintenance cost so that our future dollars can be directed to more roadway sections that are still in need of rehabilitation. This followed the direction of our geotechnical engineer and pavement design engineer, and is the best spend of taxpayer dollars, and will result in the best overall condition of our roads for the future.
As a practical example, we are building 30-year streets. This means that there will be little-to-no maintenance during this time period and, in turn, little revenue required to be devoted to these streets. If we were to construct a street that was 25% of the cost but only had 10%-15% of the life, we would be doing a disservice to the Citizens.
In terms of the establishing costs, the City used the exact same numbers that the CIRB program uses. These are historical averages for costs of construction published by ODOT. So, it isn’t whether or not CIRB funds are used or City of Choctaw funds are used. The roads are going to cost the same. The difference is that the City has made a conscious effort to build the best road section possible to minimize future maintenance and allow the City, long-term, to maximize the improvements were are able to make and thereby most drastically improve the condition of our roads.
Choctaw is not the only city using bond election and sales taxes to perform road resurfacing or reconstruction. I direct you to the City websites for Sapulpa, Broken Arrow, Sand Springs, Durant, and Tuttle, for starters. Compare the City of Choctaw’s process and numbers to these Cities; we believe we are far and above the study efforts done by these cities, as well as our transparency in numbers.
The attached powerpoint has 17 slides. Specifically slides 1, 2, 3, 5, and 7 are examples you can refer to. ODOT Grade, Drain, Surface bids from last few months (PDF)
This answer pretty much defines the process for any road selected for rebuild. As an example we will use Reno Avenue. The section of Reno between Hiwassee & Henney needs to be rebuilt and the section of Reno between Henney & Choctaw Road needs to be rebuilt. Each of these road sections will get sidewalks, curb, and guttering attention as well. It’s difficult to estimate a timeline right now because before the first shovel of dirt gets turned the City must go through a series of steps. Below is a list of some of those items:
With that in mind, as a rough guess we might be able to start awarding contracts in the late-summer-2020 time frame, but that is only an estimate.
Bar ditches and culverts will be reshaped for appropriate drainage as part of the construction on each road section. Each solution will be designed and applied on a section-by-section basis.
⇒ The property tax on a $100,000 home would increase $5 per month. On a $100 purchase, the sales tax would increase by $0.75, about the price of three coupons at a grocery store.
The golf course is a stand-alone business activity within the Choctaw Utilities Authority’s purview. In other words, it is a fee-for-service activity. The goal is for the golf course to stand on its own with no monetary assistance. However, when the City spent the $1.245M and bought the golf course in late 2016 - and the 80 acres it sits on – it also bought the problems that were causing the course to fail as a business. Some money had to be transferred to make it viable and get it out of the red on the balance sheet. It is against the law to run an activity in the red, so the City had to transfer money from the General Fund to keep out of trouble. The following budget year 2017-18, even considering the poor condition the course was in, the city floated $250K from General Taxes to help. In 2018-19 receipts were better and the City transferred a lesser amount of $185K to help the course. This year $175K was budgeted, but it may not need that much. Given that the facility will become self-sustaining (the goal is to make that a reality in the next five years or so), shutting it down will save the taxpayer exactly zero dollars.
The money actually spent on the golf course that is taxpayer-fronted is $435K, with a budgeted-but-not-yet-spent $175K for this 2019-20 fiscal year. In theory half a road could have been paved with that money, but the long-term benefit to the community justifies the investment made to date.
Another benefit the general public does not think about is the long-term: The City now owns 80 acres of prime real estate. We cannot sell the land to anyone other than the previous owners for ten years, per the purchase contract language; once that time has passed, the City will be just paying down the note and watching the value rise. If the City had not stepped in, this land would have been another housing development on some prime real estate. As it stands now, when we reach year 2026 (ten years after the purchase date) we as the owners have unlimited options for this land. If we no longer want the golf course, we can build a conference center, a recreation area, or something like “Top-Golf.” Or, we can even keep nine holes and make a retreat hotel or the like. There is significant future benefit to the City in the long run and it is short-sighted to focus on the now, debating whether the transferred money could have been used for a section of road. Council agreed to accept the risks of owning the 80 acres over repaving a one-mile stretch of blacktop, which is a drop in the bucket of the roads problem.
The City made a good deal, as the golf course is both a solid investment in real estate and a place where the City’s golfers and those from all the surrounding areas go to enjoy some leisure time and good food.
The standard roadway preliminary design methods employed by ODOT and other State & Federal Agencies were used by our engineer to determine cost. This method entails conducting enough preliminary design to prepare detailed cost estimates to accurately determine the cost of construction. The method consists of measuring the existing surface square footage by accurate aerial photos to determine the amount of removal and how much of the existing surface was to be processed. A “typical” section was then computed for each roadway section which yielded the quantities of materials needed (tons of asphalt, yards of concrete, etc.). At that point, ODOT standard pricing was applied to those material quantities to obtain cost. Any drainage improvements or widening required were also estimated on a cost per foot basis using ODOT pricing. Any “special construction” was priced individually and added to specific sections (such as schools crossings, drainage structures, and signalization). Again, this is the standard practice for construction cost estimating used by State & Federal Agencies to determine cost of construction prior to funding. Preliminary drawings are not produced until after funding is approved.
Ordinance No. 807-2019 states language “providing that the proceeds of said tax are to be used to fund the constructing, improving, repairing, and maintaining of streets, roads, alleys, bridges and sidewalks benefiting the city etc. Other sections of this ordinance and the resolutions set forth what the proceeds can be used for and “fences” its use for roads and the listed associated road costs. As far as land and real property acquisition, this only applies to obtaining right of way not already acquired, for the purpose of road widening and movement of utilities to fix the roads. This in no way authorizes the City to use bond money to purchase real property not associated with the main focus of fixing roads.
⇒ The roads will be competitively contracted out to experienced companies that perform road reconstruction and repairs.
The City of Choctaw, for the last 6 or 7 years, was contracted by the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG) for traffic counts in the city. ACOG chose which roads would be used for traffic counts. The city does not have the manpower, equipment, or funding to do traffic counts for all of the 127 miles of roads in Choctaw. Traffic counts, for the purpose of the assessment, were considered through road type—a section line obviously has a higher traffic count than a collector, which has a higher count than a residential. This was all factored in as part of the scoring criteria.
⇒ This is a long-range funding plan for reconstruction, repair, maintenance, upkeep of widely traveled roads, roads that connect to widely traveled roads, and neighborhood roads.
The Mayor’s Task Force subcommittee, led by the Choctaw-Nicoma Park Schools Superintendent, validated the assessment done by City Staff, and with additional comments, recommended the next step in selecting the roads to be worked. From that list, a more focused list was produced by the committee, accounting for the 12 roads selected. Road Selection spreadsheet (PDF) Road core samples were taken on the selected roads to narrow down the costs of repair. Any road listed under the property tax question Bond Transparency Act (PDF) must be done whether the funding obtained through the Bond Issue covers it or not. The road core samples were beneficial in providing a more accurate cost of the repair or reconstruction to the roads, but the final costs can’t be determined until bids are selected. Road cores samples also validated road conditions we could not see from the surface. The cost to perform the road core samples on the 12 roads was $26K. The cost to do all of Choctaw roads would be in excess of $350K.
⇒One must be registered to vote within Choctaw city limits no later than January 17, 2020. Contact the Oklahoma State Election Board for more information. To vote in this election, one must be a registered voter within the city limits of Choctaw. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is February 5, 2020. Election day is Tuesday, February 11, 2020. Early voting will take place at the Oklahoma County Election Board on Thursday, February 6th, and Friday, February 7th, from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm.
There are 4 roads to be completed with the property tax question and up to 8 roads to be completed with the sales tax. Road Selection spreadsheet (PDF) No determinations of start and completion dates can be made until the questions pass. State statute requires cities to list 70% of the roads to be worked under the property tax question. Choctaw went further and listed 82% to ensure the citizens a complete view of the roads to be worked.
⇒This is a long-range funding plan for maintenance, upkeep, and construction of widely traveled roads, roads that connect to widely traveled roads, and neighborhood roads.
⇒Once both questions pass, depending on when funding is provided, Choctaw citizens could see activity in late 2020.
⇒Once passed, the Choctaw total sales tax rate will be 9.5%. In Oklahoma, there are 33 other cities that will be equal to or higher than Choctaw.
⇒ Choctaw’s new sales tax rate would be 9.5%. Shawnee is 9.5%, MWC is 9.1% and OKC is 8.625%. On a $100 dollar purchase the sales tax for Choctaw and Shawnee would be $9.50, while MWC would be $9.10, and OKC would be $8.63.
If you compare the projected sales tax on a $100 purchase in Choctaw, which would equal $9.50, to a $100 purchase in say, Midwest City, which would equal $9.10, there is only a 40-cent difference. That doesn't include the cost of gas to drive there as opposed to staying in Choctaw.
⇒The monies generated through the passage of the General Obligation Bonds and additional sales tax is dedicated for funding for roads per ordinance and statute.
The proposal has two elements. General Obligation bonds to be authorized by the voters, AND a new 0.75% sales tax for roads to be authorized by the voters.
⇒The GO bonds to be authorized are currently estimated at $13 million. The GO Bonds are paid for with your ad-valorem or property tax. The long-range plan would have the City returning to the voters sometime in the next 10-15 years to authorize additional GO bonds to be issued as the older GO bonds are paid off and to allow the City to keep investing in Choctaw roads.
⇒Voters will also be asked to approve a three-quarters of one percent (0.75%) increase in sales tax, which means that for every $100 purchase in Choctaw, the sales tax increase will be 75 cents. That will increase the total sales tax rate in Choctaw to 9.5%. The increase will generate approximately an additional $1.1 million/year in revenue to fund the road improvement projects.
The sales tax increase is permanent; the property tax increase is not.
⇒Repairing the roads means there are parts of the existing road that is use-able; work can be done to make them better.
⇒Reconstructing means very little of the road is use-able, if any, because there is no underlying base. The road will need to be torn out completely and built again.
⇒The projected costs to reconstruct and repair all roads in Choctaw falls between $380 million to $410 million. Choctaw sales tax income is around $7.2 million. It is not possible to use generated sales tax to fund the reconstruction/repairs needed.
⇒The projected costs were provided by the engineering company using a square footage amount. The costs for some of the roads included items such as sidewalks, curbs/guttering, and pedestrian crossings. These amount are estimates until they are out for competitive bids.
⇒Future roads will be selected by the City Council with input from staff and citizens of Choctaw.