Proposed Sidewalk Replacement Program
The City Council has passed an ordinance placing an $800 million infrastructure repair plan on the April 4 ballot, seeking resident approval for a comprehensive capital improvements program. The program would use revenue created by issuing approximately $40 million in General Obligation (GO) bonds each year for 20 years.
Question #1 calls for approving the issuance of $600 million in bonds to repair streets, bridges and sidewalks. This would include trails. The City would use $150 million of these bonds to create a new, city-funded sidewalk repair program that eliminates the homeowner assessment.
A key feature of the plan calls for a complete change in the way the City repairs sidewalks. The bonds would create revenue to allow the City to pay for residential sidewalks repairs, rather than charging homeowners.
The proposed sidewalk replacement program was developed through months of community meetings and staff work. Additionally, the City Council has approved a resolution outlining priorities for the creating of this new sidewalk program, as well as a Complete Streets policy. The City Council supports a comprehensive plan to ensure that capital improvements maximize neighborhood mobility, safety, and economic development around the City.
If Question #1 is approved, the new sidewalk replacement program would be created using the following guidelines:
Replacing Existing Sidewalks
The city would create a program to systematically evaluate, repair and replace sidewalks. The goal is to make it through two citywide cycles over the 20 years of the infrastructure bonds program.
The systematic inspection will create priority lists for inspection based on several factors, including:
- Public safety
- Improving access to schools, public transportation, parks, grocery stores and hospitals
- Improving access to business and job centers
- Population density
- Low income and economically distressed areas
Current Spot Repair Sidewalk Program
Currently our spot repair sidewalk program is paid for by assessments on adjoining property owners. To streamline our operation, and in fairness to those who will pay the new tax, the City would forgive current assessments.
Of the current $1,728,114 in sidewalk assessments, customers are currently paying $979,711 on a regular basis and this amount could be considered eligible to be forgiven. In addition, $573,672 are currently in collections and could potentially be considered unrecoverable. The balance, $174,731, has already gone to Jackson County for collection and the City may not be able to declare these as eligible to be forgiven. (These numbers have been updated to reflect March, 2017 assessment totals)
When residents see sidewalks that need repair, they will be able to report those locations to the city, and the locations will be inspected and prioritized for repair using the factors listed above.
As new sidewalk needs are identified, the City will pay for 50% of new construction from this fund. The remaining 50% can be paid for by another source including PIAC, homeowners or other sources as identified and appropriate.
New sidewalks in newly developed areas will continue to be required under the City’s development code. This program will not impact that requirement.
Expansion of NeighborWorks Sidewalk Program
In addition to expanding the City’s sidewalk replacement system, the City will expand its NeighborWorks Sidewalk Program, which has been piloted in the 1st District with the construction of sidewalks around Chouteau and Maple Park Elementary schools and along NE Parvin Road between N. Bennington and N. Corrington. This program, created in cooperation with the Full Employment Council and the Greater Kansas City Building & Construction Trades Council, provides career development in the construction trades for those who are unemployed and underemployed. The pilot had 20 participants, of which two went on to start their own companies, and two others were hired on by local construction firms.