May 27, 2015

Special improvement districts notice draws crowd to city council meeting

By Annette Tait
Letters sent by the City of Center advising property owners of the city’s plans to designate a special improvement district drew nearly 20 people to a monthly meeting that rarely has an audience. Attendees were concerned as to how the district, which will address costs for much-needed water, sewer, and street repairs, will affect their tax bills.
The first questions from the audience regarded sanitary sewer service to homes in the Gaines Addition south of Highway 25, which currently are not served by the city. Property owners were given the option to install service when the houses were built, but chose not to do so due to cost. Property owners wanted to know why they were receiving notices if they did not have the service described.
Contract City Engineer Mark Johnson, Ultieg, responded that the properties south of Highway 25 would “probably be excluded,” a comment which immediately drew a request for clarification.
“You were offered the opportunity to get sanitary sewer extended to your property several years ago and declined,” Johnson said. “My recommendation would be that you are not part of the sanitary sewer improvement cost. You would gain no benefit from it. I’m not part of the standards committee, I don’t make those decisions.”
The discussion turned to the possible costs to install some form of sanitary sewer system to the Gaines addition, involving speculation as to potential options. The conversation closed with the understanding that, without specific information that will be gathered as Ultieg researches the actual distances to be covered and the condition of the current sewer and water systems, an accurate estimate cannot be provided.
Johnson went on to explain that about 90 percent of the research on the street frontage has been completed, and the estimate is at about $1.67 per foot. Johnson further explained that, for a $100,000 project, the per-foot rate would multiply out to $167 in special assessment taxes for a lot with 100 feet of street frontage.
“How far does $100,000 go?” Deb Clarys asked.
“Probably not very far,” Johnson replied, noting that the standards committee will make the decisions as to how much will be spent each year on projects. “The standards committee establishes a base yearly budget and then they do that every year, so there is a consistent assessment and you can plan for it.

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