A former mayor’s sharp complaints about the condition of Ceres streets and the city’s priorities in fixing them in the wake of Measure L funding drew a spirited discussion on Monday evening.
Former Ceres Mayor Chris Vierra emailed the Ceres City Council last week expressing his “major concerns about the application of Measure L funding” and the protracted schedule to get to street treatments.
Vierra said he is embarrassed at the “ghost town” appearance of the streets in his upscale Northwoods subdivision, specifically a significant portion of Payne Avenue, Lehi Way and Changason Way. Cracks two to three inches wide and every 15 to 20 feet represented “horrific condition” that will require structural repair, he said.
Vierra said as a licensed civil engineer, “I can tell you the roads need repair sooner rather than later and costs are going to go up exponentially the longer the city waits to undertake the repairs. When I look at the proposed schedule in the staff report it shows the repair for this area scheduled to occur in years 2027-2028? I find it hard to believe the city cannot address this issue for another four to five years.”
He said that when he was mayor, the area and many other neighborhood streets were scheduled to have been started and completed over three to four years ago. Vierra stated that since the departure of City Engineer Daniel Padilla he is “pretty sure nothing has been done since.”
Vierra expressed his feeling that the voters who were coaxed into supporting the 25-year Measure L’s sales tax increase have been let down.
Mayor Javier Lopez answered Vierra’s email by saying: “It is unacceptable to ignore any issues such as you have pointed out, I will have a discussion with the city manager on this matter.”
At Monday’s council meeting City Engineer Kevin Waugh gave an update on the city’s Pavement Management Program in which he said Morgan Road’s project took up most of Measure L funds for 2022-23 used in combination with other hefty funding sources. He also showed a list of streets that will be scheduled for slurry or cape seal treatment based on a Pavement Condition Index rating. Waugh said that 55.9 percent of Ceres roads are considered “good,” 26.9 percent considered “fair” and 17.2 percent in “poor” condition.
“The strategy is we look for the greatest effective results using the most efficient use of the funds,” said Waugh.
Ceres receives $1.2 million annually from its share of Measure L sales tax.
Waugh also stated that due to staffing shortages, some in-house design work for street sealing was accomplished and the city is ready to select a contractor for work to begin in July.
“We never have enough money to do all the roads we want to do and I really want to try to make that happen,” said Waugh. “My goal is to keep on it and make the streets and roads of Ceres constantly improving.”
Vierra, who appeared at Monday’s meeting, said he understands how busy and overworked staff is but fears voters will not be supportive of future tax increases if resurfacing work is delayed.
“The key to everything relates to the taxation of people is making sure that you deliver when they give you the funds or else you’ll never get them again,” said Vierra. “I’m not here to make it difficult but I do want to see some results because I think it’s due.”