PITTSBURG — Local resident Cheryl Brooks spoke during the public input period at the Tuesday meeting of Pittsburg City Commission, questioning the city’s plan to help a developer pay for constructing streets at the Silverback Landing housing development.
“I just want to make it clear that in no way are we against this project,” Brooks said. But she questioned tentative plans for the city to use money from the city’s street maintenance sales tax to help pay for concrete roads within the development.
“These are not city streets,” Brooks said. “They have not been dedicated by the developer to the city yet. Period. Why are you, the city officials, trying to change how things are legally done?”
Following Brooks’ comments, later in the meeting City Manager Daron Hall explained his thinking for why the street sales tax money should be used for the project.
Hall said developers submit initial plans that sometimes change, that the city tries to work with developers because of the benefits of the investment they make, and that it was his own preference that street sales tax money pay for the concrete streets, but added that it was ultimately up to the city commission to decide.
In response to a question from Commissioner Dawn McNay, Hall said that if the commission decided to do so the city could find money to pay for the concrete streets from another source besides the street sales tax.
Hall noted that the neighborhoods near Silverback Landing all have concrete streets. He said that concrete roads should last 20 years compared to 5 to 7 years for asphalt streets in the best conditions.
“That’s if you’re not building 50 houses and all the construction and everything that goes along with it on that road,” Hall said. “Those roads are going to take a beating.”
He said that using concrete would save taxpayers $800,000 over 20 years in maintenance costs.
Hall also addressed concerns people might have about development in general.
“When I was a child I had a field that I spent 10 years having the best time of my life in, and sure enough, somebody came in and built houses, and it was very frustrating,” he said. “But there’s only so much land, there’s only so many opportunities, and it has to go somewhere.”
Hall said that although he personally preferred using street sales tax funds to help pay for the Silverback Landing roads, it would also be appropriate if the commission wanted to make a motion to use money from another source.
“Is it appropriate?” asked Commissioner McNay. “I mean, we don’t make those decisions. We pay you to.”
Mayor Patrick O’Bryan said it seemed to him that the time to make a decision on how to fund the concrete road project would be when the city was putting together its budget, but he added that he didn’t personally think the money should come from the street maintenance sales tax.
Commissioner Chuck Munsell additionally questioned whether voters upset over the street sales tax paying for Silverback Landing roads might vote against renewing the tax, which would be problematic for the city government.
“I would hope that we don’t put it in people’s minds not to vote for the street sales tax because we used it somewhere where they didn’t think we should be using it,” he said.
After hearing the commissioners’ comments and conferring with City Attorney Henry Menghini, and Director of Finance Jamie Clarkson, Hall seemed to change his view of the issue of how to pay for the concrete streets.
“I know it seems crazy but not everything I want I get at this city,” Hall said. “We do have a staff for good reason.”
Clarkson came to the podium to address the issue and seemingly put it to rest, at least for the time being.
“When I revise the 2019 budget I will build it not using the street sales tax,” he said.