Frequently Asked Questions
Q: I THOUGHT WHEN WE PASSED MEASURES L (2012 Sales Tax) and Measure J (2014 Bonds) WE SOLVED THE PROBLEM. WHAT HAPPENED?
A: The Measure J Bond and the Measure L Sales Tax are only a part of the solution. Our worst roads and many residential streets are still in the process of repair, but more repairs are required. Thereafter, we must finance ongoing maintenance.
The problem is very large. The City has estimated that we will require $47 million in financing in order to repair all of Orinda's Roads. We are currently in Phase Two of the five- phase Orinda City Road and Drain Repairs Plan. In March 2016, the plan was revised and amended by the City Council based on the Citizens Infrastructure Oversight Commission (CIOC) recommendations and public input. Click here for the current plan. Principal changes include: the increase of the repair standard to a minimum of a Pavement Condition Index(PCI) of 50 (good to excellent) for all Orinda roads; the doubling of repair expenditures beginning in 2017, pending the passage of the Measure L Bond; the hiring of a full time project manager to support city staff in managing the increased workload.
Q: WHAT ARE MEASURES L & J?
A: Measure L, a 0.5% local sales tax, was passed in June of 2012 as part of Phase 1 of Orinda’s 5 phase plan; it will expire in 2022. Measure J, a $20 million bond issue, passed by 75% in June of 2014. Both taxes are funding Phases 1 and 2 of the Road and Drainage Repairs Plan to repair and upgrade Orinda's worst residential roads and associated storm drains.
Q: WHAT IS THE 2016 MEASURE L?
A: Measure L (on the June 7 ballot) will authorize the sale of $25 million in bonds. These bond proceeds will fund Phase 3 of the City’s Road and Drain Repairs Plan, updated in 2016. If passed, these monies will be available for FY2017 through FY 2020, which will double residential road and drain repair expenditures in those years. Click here for the ballot argument.
Q: WHY DO WE NEED TO PASS ANOTHER BOND WHEN ALL OF THE MONIES OF MEASURE J HAVE NOT BEEN SPENT?
A: Road and drainage repairs require a time frame that encompasses the issuance of the bonds, the selection and approval of streets, the contractor bidding process, the contract award, and the scheduling of the work. As a result the bonds must be issued in a timely manner, well ahead of the actual repair work, to allow the Road and Drainage Repairs Plan to proceed.
Virtually all of the funds available for road repair and soft costs have been spent (currently almost $11 million) or will be committed to awarded contracts. The last $10 million of Measure J bonds are expected to be sold and committed for FY2017 and FY2018 road repairs along with $6.3 million of Measure L bond proceeds. Contracts can't be awarded without funds on hand to pay for the work. To assure quality control, funds are not disbursed for projects until the work is completed and accepted.
Measure L will authorize new bonds to be issued for projects scheduled for FY 2017 through FY2020. Without its passage, road repairs scheduled for FY2017 will be delayed, raising the potential for escalating costs due to inflation.
Q: WHY DO WE NEED TO TAKE ON MORE DEBT? WHY CAN'T WE REPAIR THE ROADS FROM CITY REVENUES?
A: Debt is the way major capital infrastructure projects are usually paid for at the local level. The 20 year debt amortization period will not exceed the estimated useful life of the roads provided they are properly maintained. The City of Orinda has an annual budget of about $12 million, of which about $4 million is for police services. The remaining $8 million covers all other City services, which leaves only a small and very inadequate amount for roads. This amount is augmented with grants and “return to source funds” from the Contra Costa County Measure J sales tax, thus enabling the City to contribute approximately $1 million per year. This amount does not come close to meeting our needs.
Q: HOW CAN I BE SURE THE CITY WILL CONTINUE TO SPEND ITS EXISTING RESOURCES ON ROADS AND NOT DIVERT THEM TO OTHER PURPOSES?
A: As a matter of law, as well as City policy, the proceeds of the bond can only be used for its stated purpose: the repair of roads and underlying storm drains. The proceeds of the bond add additional funds to current funding from other sources. They do not replace ongoing city budget commitments. The use of all bond funds is overseen by the independent Citizens Infrastructure Oversight Commission, which meets monthly in public session. All records are public and the bond expenditures are audited annually.
Q: WHAT REMAINS TO BE DONE?
A: As of 2014 Orinda's Roads are ranked as the sixth worst in the Bay Area by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. Of the 92 miles of public roads in Orinda, the vast majority have a Pavement Condition Index (PCI) below 50 which is woefully inadequate. Click here for photos of Orinda roads. These funds combined with other sources are not enough to get all of Orinda’s roads to a PCI of 50 (a rating of good condition). Funding from the county, gas taxes and other sources, is now providing funding for all of Orinda's collector and arterial main roads. Phase One Measure L sales tax funds are only adequate for the repair of 1/3 of our residential streets. Measure J 2014 bonds (Phase Two) can fund repair of the majority of the remaining worst residential roads. The final three phases will address the remainder of initial road repair and maintenance thereafter.
Click here to see which roads are complete or in process.
Click here for 2016 Paving Program scheduled to start this summer.
Q: WHAT IS THE PAVEMENT CONDITION INDEX (PCI) AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
A: The Pavement Condition Index is the measure used by local jurisdictions to rate segments of paved roadways on a scale from 0 to 100. Click here to see the rating system.
Q: HOW MUCH WILL MEASURE L COST HOMEOWNERS?
A: Orinda homeowners will pay an average annual property tax of approximately $17 per $100,000 of their property’s assessed value (not market value).
Q: WHY USE A 20 YEAR BOND? ISN'T THAT PUTTING A BURDEN ON OUR CHILDREN?
A: This is a traditional way for roads to be built and, when necessary, substantially repaired. Bonds are the most efficient way to raise the large sums needed for our major repair stages. Properly maintained, we should not have to make major repairs on the roads again within the lifetime of the 20 year bond. However, if we don't repair the roads now, the costs will increase due to continued road deterioration and inflation, which would be a burden on our children.
The 2016 Orinda Voter Survey concluded that bond financing of our road and drainage repair had the most support compared to other funding mechanisms.
The Finance Advisory Committee submitted a report to the City Council on December 15, 2015, detailing the available financial options. Click here to download.
Q: HOW CAN I BE SURE MY STREET WILL BE REPAIRED?
A: At the conclusion of the five- phase Road and Drainage Repairs Plan, all of Orinda's roads will be in” good “to “excellent” condition. However, the timing of selection of particular roads is a complex matter, which will be determined by a public process including oversight by the Citizens Infrastructure Oversight Commission (CIOC). The CIOC works with the city staff and the Council to prioritize repairs based on the Pavement Condition Index, classification of the road, and other factors. Under California law (Brown Act), this is done in accordance with an established, open public process.
Q: WHICH ROADS WILL BE REPAIRED FIRST?
A: Generally speaking it is the intention of the Plan for the residential roads that are in the worst condition to be repaired first. However, roads do not deteriorate in a uniform way for their entire length so financial and other practical considerations are taken into account when making particular decisions. Weather events and utility repair can also force a change in priorities. The CIOC works with staff to consider all the aforementioned factors along with data generated through the objective StreetSaver software to determine the annual program of road repair.
Q: WHAT ABOUT GOING TO THE COUNTY OR STATE FOR MORE FUNDS?
A: The City aggressively seeks and receives grant funding for infrastructure and will continue to do so but it is highly unlikely that either County or State funding will be anything near what is needed. State funding is usually only allowed on major arterial roads or on roads near schools, not smaller residential roads.
Q: HOW HAS THE CITY MANAGED THE ROAD REPAIR MONIES PROVIDED BY THE MEASURE L SALES TAX, THE MEASURE J BONDS, AND OTHER SOURCES (GAS TAXES, COUNTY RETURN TO SOURCE SALES TAXES, GARBAGE FRANCHISE TAXES, GRANTS SECURED, ETC.)?
A: All monies received and spent from each source are accounted for in separate funds created in the City’s general ledger. The financial activity in each fund is reported to the City Council and included in the City’s financial statements which are annually audited by the City’s certified accountants.
All Measure L sales tax proceeds are accounted for as a segregated portion of the General Fund. Measure J bond proceeds are accounted for in a separate fund, “Road Bonds 2014”. Both accounts are audited by the City’s certified public accountants as part of the annual audit of the City’s finances.
Q: WHY DOESN’T THE CITY HAVE A COMPREHENSIVE MULTI-YEAR REPAIR PLAN?
A: The facts, which include the StreetSaver program evaluation, available ahead of each construction season, determine that season’s work. It is not practical to precisely define and schedule the repair of all roads over a multi-year period. Construction variables (utility repair, weather-related damage, sudden erosion, etc.) must be taken into account in setting a repair schedule for the coming year. This is an ongoing, annual process. Our current Plan has the flexibility to meet the aforementioned conditions, without sacrificing the goal of repairing and maintaining all Orinda roads.
Q: WHAT IS THE CITY’S PLAN FOR FUNDING MAINTENANCE AFTER THE ROADS ARE REPAIRED?
A: The final phase (Phase Five) of the Road and Drainage Repairs Plan will address ongoing maintenance of the improved road system. Maintenance will be needed in FY2023 and beyond, and its funding will need to keep pace with inflation. Unlike road repairs, where all funds required are needed in a relatively short period of time to arrest deterioration and which can only be accelerated with bond proceeds, maintenance will need to be funded on a pay-as-you-go basis. The Finance Advisory Committee’s report to the City Council in December, 2015, explains four alternative financing vehicles that will be considered by the City Council in public session well ahead of FY2023.
Q: CAN I SPEAK WITH A MEMBER OF COMMITTEE TO ASK A FEW QUESTIONS?
The Committee Members always welcome the opportunity to share information about the critical problems of roads in Orinda. Please use our contact form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.