Every year, Public Works staff conducts a review of town streets and gives each a Pavement Condition Index rating based on a 19-point physical inspection. Each surface is given a rating from one to 100, with a lower rating indicating a surface in need of corrective maintenance. Mason emphasized that streets must be placed on a regular maintenance schedule so extreme measures, and a bigger road maintenance budget, are not needed in the future. [Emphasis mine - P13] - Leesburg TodayThat's why it is astonishing that two members of Town Council: Tom Dunn and Ken Reid voted against that most basic of government functions - road maintenance.
"I still believe we are over spending in this area," Dunn said, then making a motion to cap the FY11 milling and paving program at $800,000.It seems remarkable to oppose essential maintenance on roads. Even the most libertarian of reasonable voters agree that keeping the roads working is rightly an essential function of government. I understand that Councilmembers Dunn and Reid were objecting not to the fact of road maintenance spending, but the extent of it. However, I believe that the Town staff who have done an amazing job of keeping Leesburg running better than most other towns on a constantly scrutinized budget should be given the benefit of the doubt when it comes to their areas of expertise. When Mr. Mason makes the point that regular, scheduled maintenance today is the way to avoid major catastrophic repair later, I am inclined to believe him.
He was joined in support for his motion only by Reid and the two were the only to cast dissenting votes for funding the FY11 program as recommended. Mayor Kristen Umstattd was absent for the vote.
Reid said he was casting "a symbolic vote" against the program.
"I just think that we overdo it in this town. I think this is too much money to be spent," he said. "Some of these streets that I'm looking at here I just personally don't think are that critical," for milling and paving services in FY11.
Vice Mayor Kevin Wright said he believed that if the council chose to delete a chunk of funding for its milling and paving program it would only be moving increased costs to another year.
"We have a lot of stuff that we are deferring," he said. "I'm sensitive to the overall budget but we have continued to reduce this and keep it within a responsible scale." - Leesburg Today
And we do well to remember that Councilmembers Reid and Dunn objected to the maintenance funds after the maintenance budget had already been cut earlier in this fiscal cycle. Mr. Mason was already working with a reduced budget when he made his recommendations for the updated maintenance schedule. The adjustment to the maintenance plan was recommended in light of changed circumstances. The snowstorms of this past winter significantly degraded our roads. Mr. Mason's recommendations were made to minimize the overall, long-term costs of fixing that degradation.
Consistency in maintaining our roads is even more important in light of the fact that Leesburg is getting so little help for our continuing road needs from the state. Key road development priorities are on hold until the revenue to support them can be found. That only makes keeping the roads we have well-paved more important. After this past winter's snowstorms, spending $180,000 now is critically important. It's not like the number of cars on our roads is going to be going down, or the money available next year will be going up.
Thank you, Town Council, for making the wise decision to sustain road maintenance at the recommendation of Mr. Mason. With it, Leesburg will continue to prosper.