Reynoldsburg City Councilman Mel Clemens has a succinct description of the city's street maintenance efforts: "Our streets program is pitiful. That's the word for it."

Reynoldsburg City Councilman Mel Clemens has a succinct description of the city's street maintenance efforts: "Our streets program is pitiful. That's the word for it."

Clemens, who has also served as director of the city's streets and service departments, isn't complaining about the staff. He's complaining about money. He believes the program should be at least four times larger than it is.

"For a city of our size to spend $500,000 (annually) to repair streets that are probably $25 million behind -- we should be doing at least $2 million to $3 million a year," Clemens said. "I understand we don't have the money, but it's council's duty to come up with it."

Solutions could include a dedicated streets levy. City officials are eyeing a May 2017 ballot request to increase in the Reynoldsburg's income tax from 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent, with part of the revenue going to build a new community center.

Service Director Bill Sampson agrees more should be spent on roads.

"This has been documented previously. Our budget of $15 million total for the city is roughly half that of other municipalities our size," Sampson said. "For our streets program, we average $400,000 to $500,000. Most communities our size, Dublin does $4 million, others do from $1.5 million to $3.5 million."

Reynoldsburg maintains about 112 miles of streets, which does not include roads maintained by the state, county and township. Sampson said a street should have a lifetime of 10 to 15 years. Reynoldsburg cycles street repairs on a much longer scale, 20 to 30 years.

He said priorities for repair and resurfacing are based on a combination of available funds and the condition of the street.

"We have an annual street program run by our city engineer based on street ratings and our annual allocated budget, what we have to spend," Sampson said. "We rate the condition of all city streets annually."

The weather, including extremes in the hot summer months and cold winter months, along with rainfall, contributes to road degradation, as does traffic.

"From (engineering assessments) we determine, along with our budget, what streets we can do," Sampson said. "It's all condition assessments. The length and condition of the street, the level of rehabilitation that's going to be needed.

And $500,000 doesn't go far, Sampson said.

"That's roughly two to three streets, depending on their length and condition," he said.

All the paving work is contracted out each year. Most of the work is surface paving, but the underlying road base has to be maintained also, Sampson said, along with gutters and adjunct facilities, such as bike paths.

"We'll do soil borings or core samples to determine what exactly is beneath the pavement," he said. "Is it concrete, is it stone, how thick is the pavement, what is the condition of the substrate beneath the asphalt? It depends on when it was originally constructed and what materials they used."

Clemens said he will continue to harp on the issue of overdue street maintenance, and everyone on council knows to expect it.

"Something has to be done," he said. "It can't just be something you talk about every year."

editorial@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekNews