In February 2020 Orinda conducted a survey of 400 residents on what their opinion is of extending (and doubling) the half cent sales tax. It also asked:
* Should the 30 miles of roads which are currently maintained by those living on them, home to 1,500 Orinda households, become part of the Orinda public road system?
* Should storm drains carrying water from public roads which run through private property be maintained by the City?
The response to both questions was YES although that is not what has been reported.
The reason for the discrepancy is that the questions were framed to ask whether or not the respondent would support another new tax to pay for the additional road and storm drain maintenance expenses as opposed to simply asking if the City should do what is right: Treat all residents equally and take responsibility for storm water collected on public property.
Because of the way the questions were worded, 25 percent strongly objected. This applied even to those respondents living on private roads who would benefit from public maintenance of their street. They heard "new tax" and voiced an objection. Excluding those responses, two thirds of respondents approved of allowing private roads to become public and assuming maintenance responsibility for public storm drains running across private property.
While ultimately it will cost more to maintain all roads providing public access to homes and storm drains transporting water collected on public streets across private property, it is premature to ask if people are willing to pay more because at this point the City has no idea how much more it will actually cost. It is known that the City currently does not have the funds available to maintain the roads and storm drains it does take responsibility, but it is unknown if the cost to maintain all roads and storm drains carrying city water would be an additional 5 percent or 50 percent.
We are already paying over $6 million a year in Gas Tax, County Sale Tax, Garbage Fees, City Sales Tax and Road Bonds to repair and maintain the 93 miles of roads declared as public. We know that we should spend an average of $3.6 million per year, on top of the $3 million we will be spending on road bonds, to maintain them. We know that we have at least $30 million of deferred maintenance of storm drains on public property.
Everyone already is sharing the $6 million we are currently spending and everyone will have to share the additional funding required to bring our infrastructure up to reasonable standards and keep it there.
Before the citizens are asked if they are willing to spend the additional funds to provide the same benefits to all Orindans, shouldn't the City at least find out how much extra is needed? In the past eight years we have voted in a sales tax which is costing us $1.2 million a year and two road bonds costing $3 million a year. Orindans understand that maintaining our roads is not cheap. But even those costs only amount to $1.65 a day for the average household. These costs are not amounts that are beyond the means of Orinda residents.
The City needs to determine the factual data and find various possible means to provide fair and inclusive public maintenance funding for all streets in Orinda, and storm water drains running across private property, as the accompanying letter of support requests. If you have not already, we hope you will add your name to the letter of support.Here are links to download The Survey Report The Survey Results The Survey Questions