Preserving our communities through responsible and sustainable planning.

City Council members support tolling study as part of 2016 budget

During the final review of the proposed 2016 budget, Council Member Chris Roberts introduced an amendment to allocate $30,000 toward a study of tolling on Richmond Beach Drive at the city limits as a possible way to generate funds to pay for the increased street maintenance caused by the extra traffic coming from Point Wells. We want to thank Council Members Eggen, Salomon, McConnell, and Roberts for their support for the amendment.

There was some discussion about whether the study should be specific to Richmond Beach Drive or a more general study for the entire city. It makes more sense and will certainly cost less to make the study specifically about Richmond Beach Drive. This specific study is needed because it is in response to a development permit application for Point Wells that could result in more than 15,000 additional vehicle trips on our city streets, and the City needs to understand the full range of options for dealing with the resulting extra wear and tear on our roads.

The City’s Financial Analysis of Annexation Alternatives for Point Wells is very specific about what the annexation study area is. Tolling is an potential option for the City if annexation cannot be achieved, so the tolling study needs to be just as specific about what tolling locations are included in the study.

We are also concerned that the money allocated to the study will be wasted if the study is not focused on some key issues that may be unique to this situation. The study needs to answer a very specific question:can tolling be a useful tool to raise funds to pay for the additional street maintenance costs caused by development at Point Wells? The local Richmond Beach residents who are members of the neighborhood’s Point Wells Study Group (including SRB) have spent much time thinking about how tolling might work and will ask for a chance to meet with City staff prior to the study to help make sure the focus is narrowed as much as possible.

The City staff has so far relied on negotiating an agreement with the developer to take care of the additional road maintenance costs, but there is no guarantee that the negotiation process will result in an agreement. The City would not meet the due diligence standard if it did not understand what other options were available prior to making any decision about whether to accept an offer from the developer. The last thing the City should want is to be presented an offer from the developer and feel pressured to accept it because the City did not understand if there were other options that might work better for the City.

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