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Projects funded by 1 percent tax could begin this summer

Apr 14, 2013 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

Early work would replace concrete pieces on road segments throughout Riverton.

Riverton residents could see their optional 1 percent tax dollars at work as soon as this summer, replacing sewers, gutters and other concrete pieces on some or all of 83 road segments.

Riverton's Fix Our Roads Citizens Committee made a recommendation April 8 on the initial direction of 1 percent tax work, and the Riverton City Council gave its blessing for the committee to pursue hiring a consultant to engineer the concrete project.

Voters approved the optional 1 percent sales tax in Fremont County in November, and it took affect April 1. It raises the sales tax on most items from 4 percent to 5 percent.

The City of Riverton estimates it will receive about $1.8 million a year from the tax, but only $120,000 before the end of the current fiscal year on June 30.

FORCC hopes to pursue a large crack sealing project in the fall and a chip seal and overlay job next summer, said public services director Bill Urbigkit.

Crack sealing fills cracks in roads with asphalt. Overlays involve adding a layers of asphalt on top of a street, and chip sealing is adding a layer of asphalt with a layer of gravel or crushed rock on top. All can smooth a road surface and extend the structure's life.

Urbigkit expects the sewer and gutter project to cost about $500,000.

"They felt we should go out and do as much concrete as they could (at once) ... rather than making concrete a subsidiary portion of roads contracts," Urbigkit said. "I thought we'd do one street at a time, they said no, we'll get better economy if we do it like (FORCC recommended)."

The nine city residents who compose the FORCC meet twice a month to suggest uses of 1 percent tax revenue. Its recommendations are not binding, however, and must receive approval from the city council.

Urbigkit said by making the project large scale and designing it ahead of time, FORCC thought the city would get a better price for concrete work rather than doing it alongside other road projects.

"If we put out a concrete project out to bid not knowing where they are or knowing how many there are, we don't get very good prices," Urbigkit said. "Then the contractor can think about how they're going to sequence the work and how many they're doing."

FORCC would like to hire a consultant using 1 percent tax revenue to engineer the project and inspect it when it is finished. On Tuesday, the city council gave its blessing for Urbigkit to advertise for the consultant.

Urbigkit estimated the engineering costs to be about $50,000. The project would be too big for his staff to plan in-house, he said.

"Well constructed plans and spending that money up front will get us much better bid prices," Urbigkit said.

Mayor Ron Warpness initially was concerned about using money from the new tax to pay a consultant, saying the intent of the levy was to pay for street repairs.

Council members were less worried.

"I would agree the engineering, at first glance maybe it's a little different, but you have to have it," councilman Eric Heiser said.

"We have to pay for that engineering at some point," councilman Lars Baker said. "Either we bundle the engineering with the project or we pay for the engineering up front."

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