County faced with $398 million road problem

State funding could net county $660K for local road repair

Santa Ana Valley Road winds through the hills.

County supervisors discussed using SB-1 funds for future road repair at a Tuesday meeting.

SB-1 raised the gas tax and vehicle fees in California in order to generate money to fix roads throughout the state.

Management Analyst Louie Valdez explained to supervisors that the issue also came up in a recent intergovernmental meeting between San Benito County, the City of Hollister and the City of San Juan Bautista.

“The suggestion staff provided at that time was to perhaps consider using some of these monies for the purchase of equipment to effectuate road maintenance and repairs of various kinds,” Valdez said. “At the time, we were not certain what percentage, if any, of those funds could be used or utilized to purchase equipment. I believe that information was researched and a certain percentage of that money could be used for equipment.”

Supervisor Jerry Muenzer, one of the county’s intergovernmental representatives, spoke first.

“There are a few roads where the city’s on one side and the county’s on the other side,” Muenzer said. “We could probably pool money there and repair those roads at the same time, but I think we’re a little premature in discussing whether we’re going to purchase equipment or not with SB-1.”

Board Chairman Jaime De La Cruz, another intergovernmental representative, addressed working with the city to repair roads.

“My comments to the intergovernmental committee was that definitely we’ll take it back to the (county) board and ask them for their input,” De La Cruz said. “But my position was that the board needed to first issue a policy among itself to see how to use the SB-1 money first before we start talking about partnerships with the City of Hollister.”

County Administrative Officer Ray Espinosa told supervisors how much money the county would receive from SB-1 funds.

“There’s projections from SB-1 that this next year, Fiscal Year 17/18, we’ll be receiving $660,000, 2018/19 Fiscal Year $1.69 million, 2019/20 Fiscal Year $2.4 million and 2020/21 $2.68 million,” Espinosa said. “As you can see, there’s an escalation of funding, but it’s not a tremendous amount of money. Especially when we have a $398 million road problem.”

De La Cruz asked Espinosa to repeat that last number.

“If we were to fix the roads today, that’s how much it costs?” De La Cruz asked. “That doesn’t include the increased cost of doing business right? The inflation?”

Espinosa confirmed he was correct.

Auditor Joe Paul Gonzalez explained how funding through SB-1 would work.

“That funding source will still require the county to be able to put up collateral,” Gonzalez said. “So if we wanted to get a $20 million bond, we still would have to have $20 million worth of collateral to post against that bond.”

Public Works Employee Jim Pulfer explained that the county could repair approximately 2.5 miles worth of road with the $660,000 expected from SB-1 in 2017.

“The roads in San Benito County are in need of repair,” Pulfer said. “Our average (Pavement Condition Index) for local roads are at 35. Anything under 30 is considered a failure. The estimate is $398 million to repair all the roads. It would take approximately $16 million a year just to maintain our current road standard.”

Later in the meeting, Pulfer suggested going after additional funding “as aggressively as possible.”

Supervisor Anthony Botelho also talked of finding revenue sources outside of SB-1 funds.

“SB-1, it’s clear is not going to be the answer,” Botelho said.

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