February 18, 2015

Special improvement districts, home rule charter top city agenda

By Annette Tait
A detailed proposal for special improvement districts was presented to the city council earlier this month by the city’s new City Engineer, Mark Johnson, Ultieg Engineering. Johnson’s presentation followed on the heels of the public hearing to present the proposed home rule charter and solicit feedback from those in attendance.
Johnson informed the council that the city has 70,000 feet of street frontage that could be assessed in a special improvement district.
“A typical running foot is $50 for water, $50 for sewer and $50 for street, so about $150 per running foot,” Johnson told the council, noting that total costs for a project would depend on how many linear feet were included. He later amended his estimate, noting that costs could run in the range of $150 - $200 per linear foot to replace all three.
Johnson explained his estimates were based on a typical 25-foot interior lot (with only one street front), and that assessments for a typical lot, based on a $100,000 improvement project, would be $36, and would increase proportionally with the size of the project.
“For a $1 million improvement, that same lot would be assessed $360,” Johnson said. “We are recommending that corner lots get a break, assessing at 80 percent of total footage.”
Johnson went on to explain creation and use of special assessment districts for infrastructure projects, presenting detailed steps and costs to do so.
“There are two ways to do special assessments,” Johnson explained. “One is to directly assess the people in the affected area, or two, spread the costs over the entire community.”
When the second method is used, some residents would not immediately see any direct benefit. The most serious issues would be addressed first, with other projects prioritized according to need.

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