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Residents can expect to see some work on the roads in the late summer or early fall

Help for Molalla's deteriorating roads is on the way after the Molalla City Council okayed a resolution to implement an $11 street maintenance fee at Wednesday's council meeting.

The fee will begin to appear in Molalla residents' April water bill. And with it, the city will be able to start to tackle some of the road struggles that are beginning to appear, or have been nagging at the city, in the future.

"We think we know how much money is going to come in and we are going to project what level of projects, the level of work, we can get done during the construction season this coming summer," said Dan Huff, Molalla city manager.

But the pool of money will take some time to accumulate and major projects will be some time in the making.

"(People) will see a little bit of work done this year in the late summer, early fall," said Huff. "The majority of work where we can really get some stuff done will probably be the summer of 2019. It will probably be a year out before you really see some difference."

Huff said he thought the process to get to this point "went well."

"I think from my perspective as the city manager, one of the things the council does is ask staff to bring them issues that they need to make policy decisions on," said Huff. "Street maintenance, since I've been here, has been one of those issues."

Huff noted that street conditions in the city have been one of the constant themes city staff and city councilors have been hearing for a while. It became obvious that the need to keep up with street deterioration needed a focused fix.

"One of the things the community has been pretty outspoken about is the condition of the roads," said Molalla Mayor Jimmy Thompson. "This is going to give us an opportunity to fix that."

The approved street maintenance fee will help provide that fix.

"City council was very receptive to the idea that we needed to do something about our roads – from a livability and economic development standpoint," said Huff. "As we talked through some of it and the amount of money we would need to fix everything – which was a huge sum of money – council decided they wanted to put it out to folks late last summer."

The city also held three town hall events, which provided feedback and, to the surprise of many, the $11 per month option was preferred by the majority who attended.

"In regards to the public involvement, I was a little shocked that given the different (financial) options that were provided, the majority of the feedback chose that amount ($11 per month). I thought it would be at the low end ($5 per month). It tells you that the condition of our roads are very important and we're going to do our best to get our roads fixed up as best we can. We were hoping for more attendance to those town hall meetings, but we did get some really good comments from folks in town," said Huff, "which was incorporated into the decisions they (council) made."

"For the most part, it (the process) went well," added Huff. "Time will tell whether the community will continue to support what the governing body feels they want."

John Baker

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