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Rushford Village may see road petition

By Kirsten Zoellner

Fri, Apr 18th, 2014
Posted in Rushford Village Government

April 1, the Rushford Village Council unanimously passed a 10-year plan for maintenance of several currently paved roadways following a carefully engineered survey of all of the city’s gravel, asphalt, and concrete roads. The council had previously discussed options for a number of roads, including blacktopping heavily traveled or problematic gravel roads, but opted to use the grading determined in the survey to designate a particular series of roads in the plan.

Plan Option 2 Modified calls for overlay, sealcoating, or reclamation of roadways in two parts, 2014 and 2019, carrying them through the next decade. In 2014, south Rushford will see the bulk of scheduled upgrades. Prospect Street, Main Street, Plummer Street, Whitmore Street, Darr Avenue, and Goodrich Street will see sections of both overlay and reclamation. Hayes Street, Sherwood Street, and Meadow Avenue will be sealcoated, as is Oakview Loop, south off of Highway 43. To the north, in the Cedar Hill Park subdivision, Hillview Drive and Nordic Lane will have overlay upgrades and Ridgeview Road, from Highway 43 to Rush Creek Roe is scheduled for reclamation. East of Rushford, Money Creek Road is scheduled for sealcoating. In 2019, all roads listed, except Money Creek Road, will have a new sealcoat layer applied. Money Creek Road is instead scheduled for overlay in that year. Laura Lane, is also added to the mix in 2019, scheduled for sealcoating.

The council has acknowledged the maximum cost of $1.2 million as “big” to the city taxpayers, but has also acknowledged the lack of planning for maintenance in keeping up with inflationary costs. “The city does not have enough in its current budgeted levy to keep up the 5.2 miles of paved roadways,” noted Councilor Gordon Johnson. “All the money we’ve allocated, the money we budgeted was not enough,” noted Councilor Gordon Johnson. “Some roads are salvageable, some are not. We’ve let them go farther than they’re worth. The most cost effective thing we could find was to do most this year. Either we play catch up or we let them go back to gravel.”

Six property owners in attendance challenged the need for the large project affecting the whole of the city tax base; Floyd Dunn, Merle Evenson, Ike Johnson, Phillip Kahoun, Todd Lund, and Paul Sorum. “All taxpayers are paying, but only some benefiting from the improvements. When are you gonna blacktop mine then?” asked Lund.

“To pay for something I’m never going to get use out of; somehow for us to carry that, it doesn’t make sense,” added Ike Johnson.

Mayor Dale Schwanke noted that the city does not have any tools available to apply the burden of cost to one area and not the other, such as with sewer and water districts. The city is not able to assign cost to strictly one district as with other projects issued by school districts or the county and bond mandated to be spread over entire tax base. In addition, the city believes applying assessments isn’t a viable option, as the amount would be minimal and subject to appeals through the court system.

“We’re worried,” added resident Merle Evenson. “The school’s talking about $20 or 30 million. What’s that gonna do?”

“That could break us,” echoed Lund. “We’d have to sell.”

“We’re in a quandary,” stated Schwanke. “How do we fix these things if we have no way to get money for them?”

The council was made aware of a petition of voters against the decision to approve the 10-year plan. A 30-day petition period follows the public hearing and decision of the April 1 meeting. If presented to the city, it would force a referendum on the project. If faced with such, the city cannot hold a hearing and bond for the project again for a period of 12 months. Four hundred and twenty five voted in the last election and just 5 percent, or 22 signatures, is required for the petition.

Mayor Dale Schwanke issued a word of caution regarding a petition. “With a petition, the project is dead. We can do nothing with the process for 12 months. Every county in the state has this problem; every city in the state has this problem.”

Councilor Johnson echoed his statement. “If you have a petition, it will bring this to a halt, and that’s your right. But, let us know and the sooner the better.”

According to the source, the petition currently has 22 signatures. Whether or not it will be presented to the council remains to be seen.

The meeting has been continued to Tuesday, May 6. Regular meeting agenda will commence at 7 p.m., at the Rushford Village Hall. The public is encouraged to attend.

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