Striping the solid and dotted lines on a street might not seem like a costly item, but it is one city service that might not make the cut after the 2014 fiscal year budget is amended.
During the Jan. 21 City Council meeting two people were scheduled to speak about their concerns over the lack of striping on some streets in Mobile. One person, however, did not appear, but the conversation went on between the council, Mayor Sandy Stimpson and Traffic Engineer Jennifer White.
“Last year there was $400,000 carved out specifically for striping. Most of that was done on Airport from I-65 to Cody,” White said. “This year, there was no capital budgeted at all. Also, the machine that does the striping needs repairs.”
According to White, the city’s striping machine is between 15 and 18 years old.
“It needs to be worked on every time it is used,” she said.
While it might seem like the city should just purchase a new one, a striping machine costs between $200,000 and $300,000.
Not only was the striping not included in the current budget, but neither was a new machine or repairs to the existing striping machine.
“This is something I’ve suggested looking at placing in the budget, but it depends on the amendments if it will be included,” White said. “Striping is not something that is regularly complained about. Usually it is only small complaints about intersections or when temporary striping is put down when construction is going on. That’s because temporary striping looks bad. However, typical striping lasts less than one year so there will be some roads needing it soon.”
White did say the most recent striping was done using thermoplastic, which lasts up to seven years, but costs more.
White is not alone in her department’s struggle. The fate for many departments’ needs is still up in the air due to budget concerns.
On Dec. 31, 2013, Stimpson had to announce that the city needed to cut money from the 2014 FY Budget in order for it to be balanced. City Finance Director Paul Wesch estimated that about $13 million needed to be trimmed from the current budget in order for it to be balanced.
That means the department heads had to figure out within their own budgets where they could cut.
The new budget recommendations are due to Wesch on Jan. 24.
“At that time we will add up the costs and see where we are,” Wesch said. “If there is still money that needs to be cut, we will tell the department heads to start looking again.”
Stimpson expected an update on the city’s financial situation between Jan. 29 – 31.
“Before we look at the budget recommendations, it would premature to discuss where we are,” he said. “There have not been any decisions made except that for the city employees not receiving raises.”
Not giving raises will save the city $2,347,000, which means the city would need to still cut more than $10,500,000 to balance the budget.