Your MST at Work: City to Host Community Meeting on $3 Million Street and Sewer Rehab Project

In preparation for its upcoming $3 million Street and Sewer Rehabilitation Project that will improve sewer pipes and roads on more than 45 streets all over town, the City of Mill Valley is hosting a workshop to share design proposals and gather your ideas.
The community meeting, set for Thursday, March 3 at 7pm in the City Council Chambers at City Hall, is a great opportunity to have your voice heard as we plan the 2016 edition of our annual work to make our infrastructure safer and more efficient. The 2016 Project is expected to occur on weekdays between June and October, 8am–5pm, and residents will receive another notice prior to construction work in their immediate vicinity.

Guided by its Core Values to preserve health and safety and the community's high quality of life, the Mill Valley City Council established the maintenance and enhancement of City infrastructure as one of its Key Issues and has allocated substantial funding to address repair needs. “At the direction of the City Council, the restoration and repair of our roads are a huge priority. We have leveraged a number of funding sources, most significantly the Municipal Services Tax (MST), to do so,” City Manager Jim McCann said.

The MST was first approved by voters in 1987 for 10 years at $145 per parcel, and was last renewed in 2006 at a rate of $195 per parcel. The MST generates $1.2 million in revenue annually, with $300,000 funding the Fire Department’s fire prevention-focused Vegetation Management Program, and $900,000 going toward street maintenance and road repair.

The MST is up for renewal in 2016, and is a critical funding source for both fire prevention and road infrastructure repair. Other Marin municipalities have used supplemental taxes (often increased sales taxes) to fund road maintenance. For instance, voters in the City of Larkspur approved a half-cent sales tax hike in 2013, with 80 percent of the money it generates going towards fixing roads. As a result, Larkspur now spends more than $1.8 million a year in road repairs and maintenance.

In addition to the MST, the funding sources for the City’s Street & Sewer Rehabilitation Project include the countywide Measure A half-cent sales tax, Gas Tax, sewer fees and road impact fees imposed upon new development projects.

The City’s comprehensive Street & Sewer Rehabilitation Program includes $10 million in Measure A-Major Roads funding allocated for Miller and East Blithedale avenues. The 2016 sewer and road work is in addition to the 2016-2017 Miller Avenue Streetscape Project, the $14.2 million overhaul of approximately two miles of Miller Avenue, one of Mill Valley’s two main arteries. The Miller Avenue project stretches from Almonte Boulevard near Tamalpais High all the way to Sunnyside Avenue near downtown – the Miller Avenue project is expected to begin this summer.

For the upcoming 2016 road repairs/repaving efforts, City Engineers chose to focus primarily on streets that are not in proximity to Miller Avenue to minimize the impact of each project on residents and businesses,  according to Scott Schneider, the City’s Senior Civil Engineer.

The City’s Street & Sewer Rehabilitation Project is part of an annual program to rehabilitate critical infrastructure and prioritize streets for repair based upon pavement condition, cost-effectiveness, and public feedback. It involves a wide range of work, including repaving, spot repairs and slurry seal, which is when a mixture of oil and rock is laid upon a road in order to extend the life of the pavement in a cost-effective way, as well as sewer and storm drain repair, and upgrades to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The MST is up for renewal in 2016, and is a critical funding source for both fire prevention and road and sewer repair.
Click here for a list of streets that are slated to be a part of the City’s 2016 Street & Sewer Rehabilitation Project and will receive sewer repairs first and then street resurfacing.

In addition to the 2016 improvements as well as the pavement improvement of a portion of East Blithedale Avenue (which occurred in 2013) and the upcoming Miller Avenue Streetscape Project, the Street & Sewer Rehabilitation Project has significantly improved neighborhood roads and critical arteries all over town, including a $900,000 overhaul of Camino Alto from Azalea Drive to Corte Madera Town Limits, as well as Lomita Drive and Lovell , Molino and Sycamore Avenues.

The scheduling of road maintenance follows the City’s 10-Year Street Rehabilitation Plan, which was created in 2008 in accordance with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Streetsaver Pavement Management Program (PMP).  Based on the principle that it costs less to maintain roads in good condition than those in substantially deteriorated condition, the City’s maintenance strategy is to improve the overall condition of the network, and then try to keep it at that level. According to the PMP, the City has $5 million in road rehabilitation needs and $1.4 million typically available for road paving.  

During its 2014-16 budget cycle, the City Council increased funding and allocated $2 million for street rehabilitation per year, a significant and meaningful increase. Those years have also included $600,000 annually from the City’s sewer fees. That substantial and comprehensive street and sewer pipe work includes removal and replacement of sanitary sewer pipes, sewer lateral reconnection, sewer manholes, storm drain pipe removal and replacement, reconstructing portions of curb and gutter, sidewalks, curb ramps, and driveways, traffic striping, traffic signs, and slurry sealing, among other work.

In conjunction with the Sewer Lateral Replacement Program offered by SASM and the City, the project includes advance notification to residents of the affected streets of their responsibility to maintain their sewer lateral, informing them of the opportunity to upgrade the lateral during the City’s project and letting them know of SASM’s grant and loan programs to assist with the cost of video examination of their lateral, and costs of any necessary repairs.

Maintaining the community’s infrastructure is a core function of the City’s work. The work to repair and improve streets, sidewalks, paths, and stairways is expensive and disruptive. The City is dedicated to efficient and cost-effective infrastructure repair and improvement; the Municipal Service Tax is essential to allow us to make progress in our infrastructure improvement efforts and to enhance the quality of life for our residents.

As the 2016 Project progresses, we invite you to stay informed by checking the City website and signing up for electronic notifications, updates and alerts.