City commissioners can't afford to put off funding for street repairs any longer.
As they work on next year's budget, Lawrence city commissioners are right to put a high priority on additional funding for street maintenance.
Even if that funding requires a small increase in local property taxes, it is a necessary investment in Lawrence's future.
A plan to add $2.9 million to the city's street maintenance fund is gaining a favorable response from city commissioners, not because it's the most fun way to spend money, but because there is such a great need. In February, commissioners received a report showing 31 percent of the city's 300 miles of streets were damaged to the point that routine repairs no longer were enough to keep them in acceptable shape.
That's a staggering figure, but it, unfortunately, wasn't much of a surprise to people who regularly drive on Lawrence streets. The current condition of the streets certainly raises questions about the city's overall maintenance and replacement strategy, but there seems to be little option now but to bite the bullet, approve some additional funding and get to work on the problem.
The first choice of local taxpayers, of course, would be for commissioners to tighten the city's budget in other areas and scrape together the money to start on street repairs. After all, street maintenance should be one of the city's basic priorities, far above many of the other items in the city budget.
However, it would be a mistake to put these repairs off any longer. Continually "waiting until next year" is what got city streets into their current condition. It's time to turn that situation around.