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Peterson preps assessment policy, appoints new councilor


By Kirsten Zoellner

Fri, Feb 14th, 2014
Posted in Peterson Government

With the feasibility study on the 2015 County 25 project completed, the City of Peterson needs to hammer out an assessment policy before the final design work is done. An assessment policy will be needed because general obligation bonds funding the project require at least a 20 percent assessment of property owners by statute. While the whole project is bonded as one, terms of street reconstruction and utility work can be addressed under separate statutes, reducing the total assessment. In Peterson’s case, the curb, gutter, and sidewalk work will be assessed.

Municipalities typically have varying assessment percentages for new construction, reconstruction, or repair. For complete reconstruction, Peterson is considering setting the assessment policy at 50 percent property owner/city. However, in this project, the county has already pledged to contribute 50 percent of the cost of curb, gutter, and sidewalks, so residents will pay half of the remaining percentage.

Special considerations are being taken for assessment deferment in certain cases, including those 65 and older and those with permanent or total disability. The assessments will be financed over 20 years.

The city had considered not proceeding with all reconstruction on the sidewalks, but was advised against piecing the sidewalk as needed. Due to the large scale of the project, the sidewalks cost is substantially lower. City Clerk Megan Grebe noted figures estimating $4.70 per linear foot as total cost, which translates to a $2.35 per foot assessment cost.

The preliminary assessment policy was agreed upon and will be formally presented to the community at a public hearing that is yet to be scheduled.

The city also took steps in the detachment issue brought forth by residents Alan Lipowitz and Jan Smaby. Following receipt of a letter from the City of Rushford Village noting a modification to allow the cities time to potentially resolve the issue, the council discussed the matter at length.

A recent email from Rushford Village Councilor Gordon Johnson was also discussed. “I found it perplexing,” noted Mayor Jennifer Wood. “It brought up things we’d already taken care of. I thought we’d asked during the petition.” Wood noted that in light of the relationship of the two communities, she’d sent of number of informational items to the Village, including a statement from those involved in a past Rushford/Rushford Village detachement/annexation issue stressing, in hindsight, how those involved wished they’d worked harder at it. Also shared was the status of a North St. Paul petition.

“It has to be in the best interest of both cities, according to the statutes,” said Wood. “I shared with Rushford Village so they’d have a record. I was thinking we were sharing information. I was surprised by Johnson’s accusation of bullying and scare tactics.”

Councilor Gail Boyum noted that she’d spent six hours transcribing the minutes from the January 9 meeting, where Lipowitz and his attorney discussed the petition. “We spent quite a bit of time. Barry said, ‘What is your need for leaving? What fear do you have? Can you give us a good feeling to this as why you want to leave? Is there something you need?’ The whole time we met we were really open,” said Boyum.

“The way I read the letter, he was misinformed. It was basically asking us to do what we’ve done,” added Councilor Barry Erickson.

“We’re certainly willing to discuss,” added Wood. “To reassure that we have talked with the land owners and that there aren’t any issues on zoning. I don’t think we haven’t done anything they’ve asked.”

“If we had something to address, it would be different,” added Erickson. “It’s sad that our troubles are spilling over to them.”

Peterson will send long-time city Councilor Dick Lee and Mayor Wood to discussions with the Village.

In other news, it was unanimously voted at the last meeting that resident Will Guise would step into the shoes of recently resigned councilor Bill Grindland. Unfortunately, Guise has indicate that he is unable to serve at this time. In light of that, the city approved the appointment of Dave Colbenson to the seat. Colbenson garnered nearly 30 percent of the vote in the last election, but wound up losing his bid for the seat. Eager to serve, Colbenson took the oath at the February 12 meeting and hit the ground running.

The next regularly scheduled council meeting is Wednesday, March 12, at 7 p.m., at city hall. The public is encouraged to attend.

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