Bond issue offers package deal for Tisbury road costs
After approving a layout for a connector road between Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road and State Road Tuesday night - if they do - Tisbury voters will be offered a package deal at next week's annual town meeting. A bond issue included in an article on the warrant proposes funding not only the connector road project but also the repair and reconstruction of many town roads and sidewalks.
Warrant article number 13 calls for the town to borrow $4 million for a package that includes $2.5 million for designing and constructing the connector road, plus another $1.5 million for local projects. Those include rebuilding and resurfacing about 20 roads and about 14 sidewalks, as well as replacing Tisbury School's traffic warning lights and the Park and Ride lighting fixtures, drainage structures, and signs.
The borrowing article also requires a corresponding ballot question on the April 28 town election ballot asking voters for an exemption from Proposition 2.5 provisions.
Despite what may seem like a hefty price tag, director of public works (DPW) Fred LaPiana says the bond issue will save taxpayers money in the long run.
In going over the DPW's capital plan for fiscal year 2010 with Tisbury finance director Tim McLean, Mr. LaPiana said they realized the backlog of roadwork that needs to be done.
"When we looked at all the numbers, we also considered the possibility of deferring the maintenance of the roads," Mr. LaPiana said. "And looking at the condition of the roads, we realized that if we defer the maintenance, we'll have to rebuild these roads - and the cost of rebuilding the roads is about three times the cost of maintaining or resurfacing them."
To repave roads, the town has traditionally relied on the State's Chapter 90 aid program, which is now at its highest at about $110,000 a year, Mr. LaPiana said. "That's not a small piece of change, but that's not what we need - we need about twice that," he added.
However, over the years Tisbury has neither matched the funds received, nor put much money towards general road maintenance. "I believe over the last 15 years, our roads budget for the town has averaged about $5,000," he pointed out. "Even today, it's $8,000. We don't have much money in our budget to maintain anything, in terms of roads. It's just fixing potholes, basically."
Tisbury has about 24 miles of paved town-owned roads, Mr. LaPiana said. Figuring the life expectancy of new asphalt is approximately 24 years, to maintain an infrastructure of 24 miles of road amounts to resurfacing one mile per year, at a cost of about $100,000. "When you look at it from a numbers perspective, for every year that goes past that we don't have an article on town floor to resurface one mile of road, the infrastructure loses, and the roads start to decay," he said.
Instead of coming up with a separate warrant article each year for $150,000 to $200,000 for roadwork and sidewalks, it makes sense to combine those costs with the connector road's cost in a bond issue, Mr. LaPiana said. "We're figuring in the amount of five years of Chapter 90 money, which we anticipate will be $550,000, and that brings the cost to the town down to $1.3 million, plus the $2.5 million for the connector road," he said.