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Kirksville roads continue to deteriorate, public works director says more money is needed

(KTVO File)

One Kirksville staffer is continuing to express concern over the deterioration of city streets.

"The reason the streets are the way they are: one of the biggest reasons, is lack of funding."

Kirksville Public Works Director Glenn Balliew continues to share his frustration on the current state of the city's streets.

He says that although the city will have its own asphalt plant later this year, more needs to be done in order to bring in substantial funding.

The plant should allow crews to mix their own asphalt for 40 percent less than buying it from a company.

However, Balliew says those savings still won't be enough.

He says that the city as a whole, needs to increase the street budget.

"The actual budget for the city's annual budget in the streets should be somewhere in the neighborhood of $2.75 million, annually. Right now, it's $1 million to $1.2 million. They haven't raised the street budget in 30 years."

In 2019, some funds from the renewed half-cent economic development sales tax will go toward street improvements and storm drainage infrastructure.

Once those funds are available, the budget for streets is expected to hit $1.6 million, which is just enough money to help the city scrape by.

"Just to keep the streets in their current condition, not improve, the city needs approximately $1.6 million just to keep them in their current condition. Without that money, they will continue to fail."

When Balliew first accepted the job as Kirksville Public Works Director, he vowed that improving city streets would be his top priority.

That's why he and his crews have been working on a three-phase, 15-year plan.

The first phase includes determining why the streets are in such poor condition.

Balliew says that numerous tests and studies have found the current streets were constructed with substandard materials.

As a result, they've not lasted as long as initially expected.

The second phase is to find efficient ways to build better streets in a cost effective manner.

Balliew says that's where the asphalt plant comes in.

He adds the creation of an in-house street crew has also saved money.

Finally, Balliew will look at all information gathered and make a budget recommendation to Kirksville City Council in the coming years.

He says the ultimate decision on how to move forward with repairing Kirksville streets will be in council members' hands.

"It's going to be up to the leadership to determine what we are going to do. I want to give them the numbers. Then, they have to determine what the plan ahead is to increase the dollars."

Balliew adds that it's also time for citizens to take initiative and show that they too, want their local streets repaired.

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