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Council agrees to use infrastructure funds to reduce overall cost

By Staff | Jul 7, 2009

The Rugby City Council earlier this year agreed to set aside $500,000 in infrastructure maintenance funds toward the city’s District 1-2009 street improvement project.

At its July 6 meeting, the council decided where those funds will be spent within the project.

The special assessment commission needed direction as to where the infrastructure money would be applied before they could proceed with determining individual assessments.

The commission proposed putting one-half of the $500,000 toward the figured $750,000 cost of full-depth street repairs within the project. Full-depth was defined as areas that needed a completely new road installed. An example would be a block of 4th St. S.W. west of N.D. Highway 3.

The remaining $250,000 of infrastructure funds would be spread out over the rest of the project.

Some council members agreed with that recommendation, maybe not 50 percent of infrastructure funds, but the idea of spending more city funds to ease the burden on those property owners who will have higher assessment costs because of the need for full-depth work completed in front of their homes. Monte Schneibel, Ward Four councilman, said it’s unfair that some property owners will be saddled with significantly higher assessment costs. Terry Wentz, fellow Ward Four councilman, agreed, believing the city has an obligation to provide additional assistance to those areas in need of more road repairs. Wentz pointed out that Country Road, in addition to getting curb and gutter, is being widened, which will create a safer road with better drainage.

However, some council members had a different opinion. Gerry Jacobson, Ward Two councilman, was under the impression the $500,000 the city set aside would be spread across the project, reducing the price tag. While he acknowledged some property owners will see more assessment costs than others, it’s important to point out over the years other property owners have stepped up and funded road improvements to their property without asking other property owners to share in those costs. A recent example of that was the paving of Sixth St. S.E. Jacobson said those property owners funded 100 percent of the cost, and in turn, the paving and curb and gutter increased the value of their property. Jacobson added the increased sales tax the city approved will produce more funding for the city to put toward the project, and in effect, reduce costs for all property owners, including those with more assessments.

Jim Hoffert, Ward Three councilman, also believes the $500,000, when approved to be put toward the project, was to be spread out. Hoffert said if the council is considering sharing some of the costs in rebuilding streets in desperate need of extensive work, he would like the council to consider putting back in project Alternate 3. At the time, it was taken out because the property owner most affected didn’t want to face the large assessment costs alone. If the council is wanting to pick up a larger piece of the costs, then perhaps that property owner would be willing to see that project go forward.

Schneibel moved that 25 percent of the $750,000 cost of completing full-depth repairs be funded with the city’s set aside infrastructure funds, totaling $500,000. The rest would be applied equally over the rest of the project. It was seconded by Wentz.

Hoffert made a motion to amend Schneibel’s motion to include adding Alternate 3 to the project’s total costs. However, it died for a lack of a second. Schneibel’s motion was defeated by a 5-3 vote. Those council members voting against it were Jacobson, Hoffert, Steve Brossart, Bill Hartl and Dave Bednarz. Those voting for it were Schneibel, Wentz, and Bruce Rheault.

Jacobson then moved the $500,000 be applied over the entire project, thus reducing the total cost from $5.2 million to approximately $4.7 million. The motion passed by the same 5-3 margin. Those approving it were Jacobson, Hoffert, Brossart, Hartl and Bednarz. Those opposed: Schneibel, Wentz, and Rheault.

The council then passed Resolution 2009-12 directing the assessment commission to proceed, and setting the project price tag at $4.7 million.

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