City launches drive for bond

Officials kicked off a four-month campaign for a $44 million infrastructure bond this week, following the City Council vote earlier this month to place it on the November ballot.

The bond, which would increase homeowners’ property taxes $31.97 per $100,000 of assessed value annually for the next 30 years, focuses on what Public Works Director George Bagdon said are much-needed upgrades to the city’s storm water drainage and flood-control system. Some $37 million will be directed to those projects, with another $7 million dedicated to seismic and safety improvements to city buildings.

While city officials are barred from making anything other than factual statements on the measure, Public Works officials sent out information recently on the storm water system, including the actual ballot language and a citywide Storm Drain Improvements Report detailing the work that would be done with the bond funding.

There is between $1 million and $1.5 million annually for storm drain projects in the city’s capital improvement budget, Bagdon said. The bond would increase that to between $5 million and $6 million.

Many of the pipes and channel systems in the city are 75 years old, and can only handle up to a two-year storm — a storm expected to only come once every two years. Officials want to shore up the system to withstand a 30-year storm.

Should the bonds pass, work would probably start sometime in 2007 or early 2008.

Moore Iacofano Goltsman, the company that also promoted Millbrae’s successful fire assessment two years ago, has been hired to do the community outreach for the campaign and help form a citizen’s campaign committee.

A study performed in April by SA Opinion Research found that a bond of approximately $45 million, costing the average homeowner between $150 and $175 annually, would likely pass by the required two-thirds majority. Storm drain improvements were at the top of the priority list among the 600 residents surveyed, according to the results.

The city wants to shore up aboveground drainage channels toward the east side of the railroad tracks, so the concrete sides are taller and won’t flood industrial areas around Rollins Road, for example.

Funds would also go toward four or five pump stations, which would force storm water into the Bay during high tide, when the Bay actually backs up into the city, Bagdon said. Preventing flooding on Burlingame Avenue is particularly important.

“We’re very concerned about protecting those businesses in our community,” Bagdon said.

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