Janesville residents could face bumpy drives without added funds

Failed referendum would have given $1.2 million to cover repair costs
Janesville residents could face bumpy drives without added funds

Janesville’s public works officials say some of the city’s roads are at risk of falling into failing condition and without necessary funding it will be hard to find a fix.

City officials said if more money is not put into street repairs, drivers will be in for a bumpy ride.

“I don’t believe the referendum means that people don’t want the roads fixed, but they want us to go about it a different way or come back with a better-worded referendum,” said Sam Liebert, Janesville City Council president.

After a November referendum for $1.2 million to cover the cost of repairing Janesville roads failed, fixing those roads might be more difficult.

“Our hands are essentially tied. It’s either referendum or borrow or don’t fix the roads. Those are the three options,” Liebert said.

The city needs an additional $1.2 million a year to cover the cost of doubling their current street repairs to 12 miles a year to keep up with the city’s 331 miles of roadways. But the city doesn’t have that money in its budget.

“The city is under a lot of fiscal constraints at this time,” said Max Gagin, assistant to the city manager. “The state distributes shared revenue and the city of Janesville receives one of the least amounts. We are the third lowest of 15 peer communities. So some constraints in our budget are really related to the property tax as well as the lack of shared revenue coming from the state.”

The city council approved spending $800,000 in borrowed money to repair an additional three miles of roads. They are looking at increasing the current $10 wheel tax.

“The thing I like about that tax is that we are users of the people. The people that use the vehicles on the road pay part of that cost of the streets,” said Jim Farrell, a city council member.

The Janesville City Council will meet in January to discuss all of the possible options on how to pay for current and future road repairs that will be needed within the city.