Full question: What are your initial thoughts on addressing the City’s aging infrastructure? It is not going to be cheap, and will likely require sacrifices of some programs or services.
My answer: Like most Livermore residents, I took infrastructure for granted. Then I participated in Livermore’s Key to the City program. There I learned that, for the past two years, Livermore has been working proactively to assess the state of assets, including infrastructure, and the problems that could result from failure. By being proactive and because Livermore is well-run, we know the scope of the problem; now we need to make the hard decisions about how to manage it. So how do we do that?
I see this as a matter of education, of taking ownership, and then working together to make the hard decisions. Like me, most Livermore residents take infrastructure for granted. So we need to reach out to educate everyone. Then we need to develop an attitude of caring for our home. Homeowners know that houses need maintenance: roofs must be replaced, dry rot dealt with, plumbing maintained. Similarly with a city, which is everyone’s home. We have already begun the process of making the hard decisions: the Community Asset Management Program (CAMP) Committee has been meeting for two years to work on these issues.
Finally, we need to act together to determine the degree to which we will invest in the city’s future. We currently spend about $10 million a year toward maintaining the $3 billion of assets/infrastructure the city owns. To maintain only critical infrastructure, we need an additional $10 million a year. To maintain our infrastructure in a completely proactive way, we need an additional $30 million a year. Finding the right balance will require bringing together different approaches: contributions from all, reducing other areas within the city’s budget, off-loading some maintenance on individual homeowners (as was done with sidewalk repair), and developing other funding sources. One way or another, managing our assets will require tough decisions and I look forward to being on the council to help make them.