How many City-wide assessments of street light outages are funded in the proposed budget? What would be the cost to fund quarterly or monthly assessments?
The FY 2015 budget included $7,956 in contingent reserves to fund two citywide street light surveys. (See FY 2015 budget memo #6 and Final Add/Delete.) Those surveys were performed in FY 2015 and again in FY 2016 when the funding required for the surveys was absorbed in the Department of Transportation & Environmental Services (T&ES) budget. Surveys are typically performed in March and October by teams of two City staff. The teams use a zone/grid system to inspect streetlights across the entire City and report outages to Dominion Virginia Power, which maintains more than 10,000 streetlights across Alexandria. Funding required for the surveys is for labor, with negligible vehicle and fuel costs. Each survey takes approximately 40 labor hours and costs approximately $2,500, which is for overtime. The exact amount of each survey depends on the labor rates of the employees performing the work.
In FY 2017, T&ES again has absorbed labor costs for the surveys and increased the streetlight survey frequencies from bi-annually to quarterly beginning in the second half of FY 2017. The surveys are now scheduled to occur on a rolling (ongoing) basis so the City is comprehensively surveyed every three months. Thus, four City-wide assessments are planned for FY 2018 at a cost of approximately $10,000. The labor costs for quarterly surveys would be absorbed in the T&ES budget because the department has continued to prioritize these surveys within existing resources. However, to conduct citywide surveys on a monthly basis, T&ES would need an additional $20,000 in funding, or a total of $30,000 for this purpose.
Currently, the staff of T&ES and the Department of Information Technology are coordinating on a mobile application that will allow residents to more easily report outages. Once the app is launched (expected to be by November 2017) it will simplify the streetlight reporting process for both residents and staff and allow for savings.