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Paynesville Press - September 19, 2001

City unsure how to assess project

By Linda Stelling

With the state paying for the upgrading of Lake Avenue (Highway 124) next summer, the city is unsure how to assess the project to property owners.

Normally, the city assesses part of the street cost along with the costs for water and sewer lines. In this case, though, funds from the state will cover the street cost.

City engineer Pete Carlson asked the city council how the city wanted to assess homeowners: for water and sewer services only or to try to include something for the streets as well.

Traditionally, the city takes the project costs and divides them among the property owners.

The dilemma in this case is that assessing street costs for Lake Avenue seems unfair because the costs are not being paid by the city. On the other hand, street assessments are meant as a way for homeowners to contribute to the streets in the city, not just purchase the one they live on.

These residents use other streets in the city, which other residents have paid for through assessments, Carlson noted. He didnŐt consider it fair to not charge residents for some street costs.

The estimated cost for the water and sewer work in the Lake Avenue project is $245,242, which would mean low assessments compared to previous city projects that included streets, Carlson said.

One way to include a street component in the project would be to take previous assessment rates and use them for Lake Avenue, Carlson said. He averaged rates for four previous projects, getting a rate of $39.36 per foot. This rate would be multiplied by each lotŐs linear footage on Lake Avenue to yield the total assessment per lot.

Forty percent of the total assessments on homes would be between $1,500 and $4,000 and another 40 percent are between $4,000 and $5,000. The highest assessment for a residential home would be $5,600.

A few businesses would be assessed up to $8,000, and the highest commercial assessment would be $23,000.

Only residents from First Street to Highway 23 would be assessed. Residents south of First Street have their water and sewer line access on Koronis Avenue.

Carlson recommended two lots not be assessed as their lots have streets on three sides. The Don Brossard residence and the Paynesville Vet Clinic could be assessed when Koronis Avenue is upgraded in 2004, Carlson said.

The city council set a public hearing for Wednesday, Oct. 10, at 6:30 p.m. to answer questions on the Lake Avenue project.

The state plans to turn Lake Avenue over to Stearns County. As part of the turn-back agreement, the state is providing funds to reconstruct Lake Avenue, which includes revamping the intersection with Highway 55.

Stearns County engineers are designing the roadway, and the city of Paynesville is responsible for coordinating and upgrading water and sewer services.

Carlson recommends replacing water mains from First Street to Highway 23 and making a complete loop to connect County Road 34. As part of the improvements, a larger water main will be installed to provide a better water supply to Sunrise Avenue, South Street, and the downtown area.

No construction timetable has been established, as it depends on the countyŐs schedule.

A final decision about the assessments does not need to be made until next year, but the council is expected to make a decision this fall.

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