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Road bond plan big winner

Provo voters OK proposition allowing refinancing of road bonds

Deseret Morning News graphic

PROVO — Provo city officials successfully steered a road bond proposal past voters Tuesday, who approved it in a landslide.

Proposition 1 allows Provo to refinance bonds residents approved along with a tax increase in 1986. Those bonds, reapproved by voters in a 1995 landslide, were due to be retired in 2009, when residents would have seen a reduction in their property taxes.

Instead, voters decided to postpone the tax cut until at least 2015 in exchange for road repairs. With 50 percent of precincts reporting, the bond was passing 72 percent to 28 percent.

"We're ecstatic about it," said Nick Jones, city engineer. "Hopefully we'll be able to get our roads back up into great shape in the next two three years."

Jones said the landslide indicates residents believe road conditions reflect Provo's image and appreciate the street department's 15-year effort to upgrade Provo's roads.

Opponents, including mayoral candidate Dave Bailey, believed voters should have taken the tax cut and forced city administration to pay for the repairs as a regular, budgeted expense.

"Why are we bonding for normal road repairs in a city?" Bailey asked. "It was a good time to retire this bond."

Jones said Provo receives about $3 million a year from motor fuel taxes.

About half pays for personnel, equipment and supplies in the streets department. The other half is split between road resurfacing and increasing road capacity, such as building new roads, widening others, putting in new traffic signals and building roundabouts.

That means Provo has been spending about $750,000 a year on road resurfacing.

Jones said the city needs to spend $1 million more a year to get all of its roads improved on a schedule that keeps them in good shape and depresses long-term costs.

Jones said the city will begin planning its first projects in January and start work on the roads in the spring.