Baxter City Council: Methods mulled to address high property assessments
BAXTER--The Baxter City Council is mulling changes to special assessments for properties on Basswood and Greenwood (east of Cypress Drive) roads--signaling not only a potential shift in the city's larger infrastructure plans for 2019, but a discu...
BAXTER-The Baxter City Council is mulling changes to special assessments for properties on Basswood and Greenwood (east of Cypress Drive) roads-signaling not only a potential shift in the city's larger infrastructure plans for 2019, but a discussion that could resonate in initiatives along Memorywood Drive and elsewhere.
During a workshop Tuesday, Feb. 4, Aric Welch, a civil engineer at engineering-architectural firm Widseth Smith Nolting, presented members options to address hiked assessments for Basswood and Greenwood residents and, in doing so, possibly recodify how projects will be funded in a way that's most compatible for the city and affected residents.
Since the city broached a mill and overlay project to fix these roads in 2017, it's been determined these stretches are in such a state of disrepair that only a full-depth reclamation will address the problem, Welch said. A full-depth reclamation involves breaking up the pavement to its base, then recycling the original road with a new layer of pavement into a reconstituted roadway.
Currently, full-depth reclamation improvements to these roads would incur $7,706 in special assessments per adjacent lot-significantly higher, Welch noted, than a comparable project on Memorywood Drive priced at $6,228 per lot.
According to Welch, the limited number of accessible lots, as well as adding 2 feet of pavement width to Greenwood Road and a cul-de-sac to Basswood Road, all factored in these increased cost assessments. These two roads are part of the larger 2019 mill and overlay reconstruction project intended to fix a number of deteriorating roadways in Baxter.
In further discussion between council member Zach Tabatt, Welch and City Administrator Brad Chapulis, it was determined increasing road width wouldn't change assessments significantly, because the larger deciding factor is the lack of assessable lots, based in part by the low number of lots and, of these, some are already involved in the Cypress Drive corridor project.
In addition, portions of Greenwood Road involved in the 2019 mill and overlay project are expected to see $81,045 for roadway improvements, while estimated costs for stormwater infrastructure have been revised from $224,995 to $254,335.
Welch laid out three directions the city could take:
• Revert to the original 2017 mill and overlay assessments. Adjusted for inflation, this would come to $3,600 to $4,100 per lot, however the city would have to pick up the slack and take on $73,255 to be paid by taxpayers.
• Combine projects of similar size and type together. Welch cited the Memorywood Drive project for a potential merger, since it's also a residential full-depth reclamation project. Combining the two projects would result in an estimated assessment of $6,408 per lot-lowering Greenwood Road and Basswood Road area assessments by roughly $1,300 per lot, while raising the Memorywood Drive area assessments by approximately $180 per lot.
• Set a rate based on similar projects with the remaining costs picked up by the city of Baxter. Welch said, as an example, the city could set an assessment rate of $6,228 per lot, the same rate as the Memorywood Drive project. This would result in $28,073 to be taken up by the city, with no impact to property assessments on Memorywood Drive.
"Where I am today, my preferred option would be item three-so that now, we wouldn't go back to the people on Memorywood Drive and change their assessments," council member Todd Holman said.
Mayor Darrel Olson expressed similar sentiments and voiced his support for the third option.
"To go back (to Memorywood Drive residents) and tack that on," Olson said, "it's just not right."