The city of Newberg is already moving to utilize the brand new fee it's collecting from residents and businesses to preserve and repair the road infrastructure.
With the $1.2 million the transportation utility fee — also known as TUF or "street fee" — is expected to bring the city each year, city staff have assembled a list of dozens of projects for this summer with construction planned to start in August – even before the city starts collecting the fee.
"We want to show immediate results — to demonstrate how much of a difference rate payers' investment will make on our road system," Public Works Director Jay Harris said in a press release. "These repairs are overdue, waiting for funding. Now we're able to take advantage of summer weather and get to work, knowing we'll have TUF dollars coming in on a regular basis."
The fee — approved by the City Council in May — will assess residences a flat fee on their municipal services statements, $4.99 per month for a single-family home, while fees for businesses and government properties will vary based generally on estimates of how much of a burden they place on the roads.
Residents will bear about 35 percent of the $1.2 million collected through this fee, while other businesses, organizations and public agencies will cover the other 65 percent.
Even before the fee goes into effect, the city approved a contract this week for Knife River Corporation Northwest to do nearly $850,000 of street maintenance and repair starting next month. The city had planned on borrowing money leveraging the fee in order to start TUF-funded work as soon as possible.
The majority of that work will be giving a slurry seal treatment to roads that are still in fair condition, a relatively quick and less painful process as far as road maintenance goes, Harris said.
A couple of roads — Eighth Street from Center to College streets and Elliott Road south of Highway 99W — will undergo a more intensive "grind and inlay" process.
Harris explained that the fee is being split, with 70 percent of funding to go toward keeping "fair" roads in decent condition and cheap to fix and the remaining 30 percent going toward the much more expensive failed roads.
He said the formula tries to balance keeping maintenance affordable while not just ignoring property owners on pot-hole ridden streets.
"If you wait two or three years, it's going to be about the same cost to fix the road that's already heavily damaged," he said. "The road, though, that's in fair condition, if you let it get to a heavily damaged condition, you've just multiplied your cost to repair it by three or four times per mile. So, that's why it's important to try to save the streets that are in good condition."
Harris expected the fee would begin appearing on municipal services statements in September.
In the meantime, he said the city is sending out letters to about 700 city businesses and organizations in the coming weeks detailing their fee rate and classification. Harris said this will give businesses time to contact the city with questions or concerns.
He noted that signs and door-hangers will be distributed to properties affected by any of the projects on the docket warning of when the projects will start.
More information about the fee and the work planned for this summer is available on the city's website at http://bit.ly/2vvriTg.