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County balks at funding West Lake lights

Posted: October 14, 2011 - 2:22pm  |  Updated: October 15, 2011 - 10:49pm

Twitter @DonnieFetter

Some West Lake residents want the county to help defray the cost of installing new street lights.

But at nearly $80,000, county officials says they don't have the money nor the inclination to lend a hand.

A representative of the West Lake Property Owner's Association told commissioners on the Development Services Committee last week that the approximate cost of the installation for 36 new street lights is $200,000.

"They ... wanted us to pay a $78,000 fee ... (to) tunnel under the roads and everything else that goes with it," county Development Services Director Richard Harmon said following the meeting. "We don't do that. We don't budget for that."

Sometimes, Harmon said, the county might pay $2,000 or $3,000 to do some digging to install street lights, with the money coming from an enterprise fund paid for with revenues from street light tax districts.

However, only $115,000 was budgeted for such work in that fund for this fiscal year, and only about $30,000 remains, Harmon said.

In cases where commissioners provide funds for such installations, Harmon said it typically is in newer neighborhoods where developers already have built much of the necessary infrastructure.

The West Lake representative argued that his neighborhood deserved special consideration because the neighborhood collectively pays about $4 million each year in property taxes and the community, not taxpayers, maintains its own roads.

Commission Chairman Ron Cross countered that the funds for such installations don't come from property taxes and that West Lake maintains the roads because they are private streets.

Keeping the streets private is a choice West Lake residents made to live in a gated community.

"Our recommendation was to approve (West Lake to become a) street light district, but without the $78,000" Harmon said.

Commissioners likely will vote on this issue when they meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the auditorium of the Evans Government Center on Ronald Reagan Drive.

 

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