Harlingen picks roads to fix

HARLINGEN — Residents will see their new street fees at work this year.

Last night, city commissioners approved a $1.9 million project to pave 15 streets as part of the city’s annual Street Improvement Program for the upcoming fiscal year.

City staff used certain criteria to recommend commissioners approve the list of streets, Assistant City Manager Carlos Sanchez said in an earlier interview.

The criteria included street conditions and volume of traffic, he said.

Sanchez said the street list was taken from a 15-year master list.

This year, staff selected streets located in various parts of town, he said.

As part of the program, he said, the city will pave 4.2 miles.

“The repairs typically consist of overlaying the street with 1.5 to 2 inches of asphalt on the existing street to repair surface failures, thus extending the life of the street,” Sanchez wrote in the project’s executive summary.

“Those streets which have developed more severe failures are addressed with reconstruction of the base material and then overlaid,” he wrote.

In past years, the city has funded its annual street program through its general fund budget, setting aside as much as $1.5 million a year for street projects.

Now, the city’s new street maintenance fee is expected to help fund more street projects.

This year, commissioners approved the so-called street maintenance fee projected to generate about $1.4 million during the upcoming fiscal year.

The city plans to add $460,000 in fees expected to be generated from last June, when the ordinance became effective, through Sept. 30, which marks the close of the fiscal year.

Under the new ordinance, utility bills include a monthly $2.50 fee for apartments and other multi-family units; a $2.50 monthly fee for single-family homes using 1,000 gallons of water a month or less; a $4.50 monthly fee for single-family homes using more than 1,000 gallons a month; and an $8.50 monthly fee for commercial accounts.