Bedford voters to decide on $30 million road repair bond
BEDFORD — Public Works Director Jim Stanford and his staff have listed about 150 roads in need of reconstruction or repair. He said the town has a backlog of repairs to roads, bridges and culverts, and the proposed $30 million road bond would address these issues.
Stanford said as of 2013, there are 39.3 miles of roads that need immediate attention. The town maintains 189.8 miles of roads; some haven’t been touched in 20 or more years.
“The concentration in the past has been on collector roads — the Wallace roads and the North Amherst roads — and the side roads would be done with annual appropriations of $1 million,” Stanford said. “Any roads that haven’t been done in 20 years are included in this road bond.”
The proposed bond on the March 11 ballot includes $11.4 million for major collector road improvements, $13.2 million for local roads, $3 million for repairs to bridges and major culverts, and $3.5 million for routine and preventive maintenance. The highest estimated tax rate increase would be $1.21 per $1,000 property valuation.
The bond would be issued in three, 15-year bonds in 2015, 2017 and 2019, with construction beginning in 2015 and ending in 2020-21, according to Finance Director Crystal Dionne. The plan is to do $5 million of road work per year, and design a two-year plan for the next phase. The road bond does not provide any money for new sidewalks — a recommendation in the Bike and Pedestrian master plan recently adopted by the Planning Board.
The proposed bond would cost taxpayers about 30 cents over the first two years, or $120 per year for a $400,000 home; then increasing to 60 cents in years three and four and to 90 cents in years five and six.
“During this time, other debt will be paid off that offsets the tax rate impact of the road bond,” said Dionne.
As of December, Bedford taxpayers owe about $92,000 for the safety complex bond from 1994, with a maturity date of July 2014; $350,000 for the new library building through March 2016; $3.8 million for the 2006 road bond through July 2016; $585,000 for the 1999 landfill closure bond until January 2019; $5.7 million for the 2011 infrastructure bond until December 2021; and $7.9 million for the 2013 infrastructure bond payable through January 2023.
In June, the town was able to secure lower interest rates of 1.43 percent on a $7,785,000 bond, the second portion of the $13.2 million infrastructure bond approved by Bedford voters in 2011; and the refinancing of the 1999 landfill closure bond, which was originally borrowed at 4.48 percent.
The long-range plan is also to establish a road maintenance program, by adding $200,000 per year to the department’s road budget to reach $2 million per year, Stanford said. The $1 million annual maintenance budget has not increased since 2003, he said.
The annual road maintenance budget is included in the Town Council’s proposed $26 million budget, which will go before voters at the annual Town Budgetary Meeting on Wednesday, March 12, at 7 p.m. at Bedford High School.
Council Chairman Chris Bandazian said the road and fire substation bonds need two-thirds majority to pass.
“Two-thirds majority is a very high level of voter agreement. If the community is behind this, it’s not the time to be complacent about bringing people out to vote,” he said.
To view the list of roads slated for repairs, visit www.bedfordnh.org.