Prairie Village wrestling with how much it can spend on deteriorating streets

Jay Senter - May 25, 2011 12:00 pm
Bruce McNabb presented the council with an overview of recommended public works projects for 2012.

Facing the prospect of steep future costs if the city doesn’t address some aging infrastructure issues soon, the Prairie Village City Council is grappling with how much money should be allocated to to Capital Improvement Projects in its 2012 budget.

The council on Monday heard an overview of projected publics works costs  Director Bruce McNabb, sparking a discussion about how much funding should be allocated to street repair and other infrastructure maintenance — and where the city would find the funds to pay for them.

McNabb stressed that it can cost four to five times as much to replace a fully deteriorated road than it would be repair a road that’s just starting to show significant wear and tear.

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The current budget proposal calls for approximately $4 million to be allocated to CIP, though public works staff have projected it would cost around $7 million to fund the projects it recommends.

Some council members said the city needed to balance its priorities as it considered such budget issues. Councilwoman Laura Wassmer, who sits on the Parks and Recreation committee, said she thought parks and police were as important to residents as streets.

“My question is, do residents want a perfect park that’s on a good street, or a good park that’s on a perfect street?” she said. “I think parks are at least as important as roads are to a lot of residents.”

Still, a contingent of council members are pushing to address the road issues sooner rather than later.

“People say, ‘Well, that costs too much,’” said council finance committee chair Charles Clark, who supports finding funding for additional street repairs. “But it’s going to cost a whole lot more if you don’t address it.”

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