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Some residents at odds with figures

By Staff | Sep 25, 2009

City officials have already received a number of calls from property owners, disputing their assessment for the recently completed District 1-2009 Rugby street improvements, and more contesting of assessment figures likely will come up this Monday evening, Sept. 28 at the scheduled special assessment committee hearing.

Karla Harmel, city auditor-administrator, acknowledged there have been a number of errors on individual assessments, and she’s been reviewing and making corrections when warranted. There will be more assessment figures to adjust at the hearing that begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Otter Tail Power Co. community room.

The assessment list was published for two consecutive weeks in the official city newspaper – The Pierce County Tribune – in its Sept. 12 and 19 issues.

Some of the points of contention were how curb and gutter replacement was figured into the assessment as well as driveway replacement, and whether there were mistakes in figuring square footage of properties.

Following the hearing, the three-person assessment committee, will likely certify the assessment listing and file it with the city auditor-administrator.

Council OKs five percent discount

The Rugby City Council last week approved by a 5-1 vote a five percent discount in the total assessment cost for those property owners who choose to pay off their entire assessment within the alloted 10-day period – Oct. 20-30 -following the city council certifying the assessments.

A discount wasn’t required, but the council wanted to give property owners an incentive to pay off their assessments.

The council had also agreed to set aside a significant amount of infrastructure-maintenance funds next year, which are generated from city sales tax collections, toward paying the principal and interest on the project bonds. The first bond payment is $455,000 and the council agreed to set aside $227,500 in infrastructure funds to pay one-half of that payment.

The council could pass a resolution next month which would instruct future councils to continue to pay a large portion of the annual bond and interest payment using infrastructure funds.

While the kicked-in to pay off the bonds will provide some relief for property owners who choose to make annual assessment payments for the scheduled 15 years, those who decide to pay off the project up front, saving interest fees, will get a better deal, Harmel said.

About the project

The project’s cost was $5.2 million and consisted of overlay or seal coat work on a vast majority of street within the city limits. Some sections of streets received more extensive repairs, including replacing the road bed and putting in a fabric liner to protect against water seepage upward to the surface. About 18,000 feet of curb and gutter was also replaced or put in around town. Also, some new drive way aprons were constructed.

The project actually was completed ahead of schedule, and to date, about $500,000 under budget. However, the city may decide to use some of the contingency funds in the project, which were not spent, toward additional curb and gutter replacement and improving some drainage problems which have developed since the street work was finished.

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