EPHRATA — Voters in Ephrata will have an opportunity on April 24 to cast ballots for a two-tenths percent dedicated sales tax to establish a city road maintenance fund.
“This will be used for improvements, repairing potholes, and creating a savings account to pave asphalt where we have gravel,” said City Administrator Wes Crago.
Meeting Wednesday night as the board overseeing Ephrata’s newly created Transportation Benefit District (TBD), the city council voted unanimously to put the dedicates sales measure before city voters in April.
The city council created the TBD late last year to raise an estimated $200,000 per year to fund city road repairs following last year’s harsh winter, which caused damage to roads across the region.
The tax increase requires a simple majority — 50 percent plus one vote — to pass. If approved, the two-tenths of a percent sales tax will in place for ten years.
Crago also told the city council that $2.7 million in state funds for the $3.2 million Basin Street water project is now available thanks to the recent passage of the state capital budget.
Which means that work on replacing the city’s antiquated and leaky main water pipes can begin as soon as possible.
“If I had my way, we’d start by March 15,” said Bill Sangster, Ephrata’s director of public works.
The state Department of Transportation has also delayed the Basin Street resurfacing project until 2019 at latest, Sangster said, though he hoped the resurfacing work could be done close on the heels of the water line replacement work, which will requiring tearing up a long stretch of Basin Street.
However, Ephrata officials were relieved the money was finally there.
“At least we’re going to be doing it,” Sangster said.
Charles H. Featherstone can be reached via email at email@example.com.