By Roger Pugh
“There are two things I think of when I think of Piedmont,” Mayor Valerie Thomerson told the Piedmont Chamber of Commerce last week while discussing the upcoming $6 million bond issue election to improve several major roads in the community.
“First, Piedmont has some of the best schools in the state. Second, Piedmont has some of the worst roads,” she told the audience.
She said Piedmont people came together to make sure the community had the best schools.
“I don’t have kids in our schools, but I pay a lot for schools, and I’m proud of the school system,” she noted.
Her message seemed to imply that if Piedmont residents want improved local roads, the community must come together to approve the bond issue like she sees it comes together to make the school district an outstanding district. Another undertone seemed to be that it will require those who do not often utilize the roads proposed to be improved to also support the bond issue if Piedmont is to ever get on top of local road repair.
Piedmont City Manager Jim Crosby told the audience every community survey showed that people want the roads fixed.
He noted that on most local roads, the drainage is poor, bar ditches have been filled in or are otherwise gone.
“We will fix the roads properly,” he promised if the bond issue is approved.
He detailed some of the construction standards to be utilized, including adequate drainage and bar ditches, a properly prepared base, and five and one-half inch crowned overlay.
Seven stretches of roads in Piedmont are proposed to be repaired. If those streets can be fixed for less than the engineer’s estimates, more streets will be added to the repair list. Many of the streets on the repair list are on school routes or by a school.
He also said one hundred percent of the money from the bond issue will go to improving Piedmont streets.
Rick Smith, the Bond Advisor hired by the city for the issue, said the issue, if approved, will be divided into two pieces. He said $3 million of the bonds will be sold upon approval, and another $3 million will be sold a year later. Each of those two issues will be on a 10-year payout from the date of issue.
Smith explained state law does not allow for any of the property tax to go to cities, except when citizens of that city approve a bond issue.
He noted that the net assessed valuation of all property in Piedmont city limits has historically increased by six to seven percent per year.
However, to be conservative, the projections for what the tax impact would be on local property owners is based on valuation only going up by three percent per year.
Smith also said that the actual cost of the bond issue will be determined by the interest rate the city will have to pay on the bonds.
He said projections for this issue are based on a 2.5 percent interest rate, which he said was a highly conservative estimate.
Smith told the audience figures from the county assessor’s office show the median value for a home in Piedmont city limits is $165,000.
In other words, half the homes in Piedmont are valued at under $165,000 and half are valued over $165,000.
For a home valued at $165,000, the average annual property tax increase for the life of the bond issue is projected to be $263.32, or $21.94 per month.
The impact will be slightly higher the first few years of the issue and will be slightly lower the final few years.
Smith said the city engineer has designed all of the roads proposed to be improved to have a 20 year life span under normal traffic conditions.