At the Bennington City Council meeting this past Monday, Jan. 14, we got a preview of the One- and Six-Year Plan for street repairs and improvements. In the current year, projects already underway include:
- A new turning lane at 168th and Bennington Road
- New streets in Bennington Park West
- New streets in Prairie Hollow
In year two and beyond, the plan includes the 156th Street project in 2020 and 10 others to repair and improve Bennington's roads.
This plan is not written in stone, but it is a useful planning tool for prioritizing and budgeting. The formal public hearing for the One- and Six-Year Plan will take place at the Feb. 11 City Council meeting. If you would like to see the full plan, let me know.
At Monday's meeting, we also discussed a new potential funding source for these road projects. For years, Omaha, Douglas County, Gretna, and other municipalities have assessed one-time fees on new homes being constructed in a city's zoning jurisdiction, but not within city limits. (Our zoning jurisdiction extends one mile beyond city limits; an example here would be the newly planned development southwest of 156th Street and Bennington Road.)
Set around a percent or two of the home's value, this funding can be used to improve and maintain streets that will see increased usage as new developments fill out.
Bennington does not currently assess these fees. There are both pros and cons to doing so:
- Pros: This revenue can support more frequent street maintenance and projects to improve traffic flow and safety. Without this revenue, these expenses fall more heavily on residents within the city limits.
- Cons: The fees, though small, are likely to get at least partially passed on to the home buyers in the newly developed neighborhoods. These folks are not residents of the city -- at least not yet -- and they would be asked to contribute to city street projects.
Bennington has a small population and a small commercial tax base. Yet the town's role as a hub of life for thousands more students and their families places a heavy burden on our streets. Right now, there's no formal proposal on the table regarding these fees, but they will continue to be a topic of discussion as the next budgeting cycle begins.
If you have any thoughts on this issue, please let me know.
For the full agenda and minutes from Monday's meeting, go to the city's website.