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Lanesboro Council discusses capital improvement projects

Fri, Apr 11th, 2008
Posted in Government

Lanesboro City Council members got together for a special meeting on April 7 to discuss the capital improvement projects and financing. They were also able to hear about some new options and lower costs from Mike Bubany of David Drown and Associates.

The city is planning on doing some major work to Whittier Street, including total reconstruction of the street, curb and gutter, water main and storm sewer. They will also be putting pavement and curb and gutter on Maple Drive. At the last council meeting, Dillon Dombrovski of Yaggy Colby presented the council with a total estimated cost of $680,000 for both projects. This time, however, the price tag was much lower, at $560,000.

Bubany explained that he and Dombrovski had made some adjustments to the cost based on bids that have been received in other towns for similar projects.

"The numbers are coming in below the usual cost estimates," said Dombrovski.

Another adjustment from the last meeting was changing the assessment percentage of Maple Drive to 100 percent assessed. Bubany explained that Maple Drive is a new addition, and the city will be putting black top on gravel and making new curb and gutter, not reconstructing the existing road, so it falls under the 100 percent assessed in the assessment policy. Normally during new construction, the curb, gutter and pavement are all completed and the cost goes to the property owners.

According to Bubany, these changes drive the cost of the assessments for property owners on Whittier Street down to almost half. The amount being assessed for that street, if the council goes with 25 percents, went from $94 a foot to $55 a foot. If Maple Drive is assessed at 100 percent, the cost to property owners will be $67 a foot, or an average of $6,000.

Bubany showed the council some projections for the future as far as tax rates, water and sewer bills with this proposed scenario, as well as with possible future projects. The tax rates for everyone in Lanesboro stay right on or slightly above the baseline of 73 percent. Sewer bills will go up slightly around 2015, and water bills will have a slight increase in 2009. Bubany added that even if the tax rates don't go up, that doesn't mean that property taxes will not increase if the value of the property increases. Also, new developments in the city will make the graphs look even better, as the taxes will be distributed among more property owners.

Council member Kevin Drake asked Bubany what would happen with the charts if there were no assessments, and the cost was distributed equally throughout the town. The chart showed tax rates rising, as well as water and sewer bills.

Mayor Steve Rahn pointed out that if there were no assessments, it would impact the number of projects that could be done in the future, as tax rates raise considerably. He also mentioned that there are a lot of people in town that need curb and gutter and other work that needs to be done.

Bubany added that $55 per foot is actually pretty low in comparison with other cities in the area and work that they've had to do recently. He also figured out the tax rates if the council chooses to assess at 20 percent, the lowest they can go by state law, instead of 25 percent. That rate would put the assessment at $44 a foot.

Dombrovski stated the entire project should take around five months to complete, as after the public hearing they have to do surveying and designing, then hold another public hearing for the final costs. He believes that bids could be awarded in June and work could start in July.

A public hearing will be held on Monday, April 28 at 5:30 p.m. for discussion. At that time, the council will have made the final decisions on how to assess the projects.

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