by Dennis Dalman
A public assessment hearing will take place starting at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 8 at Sartell City Hall for property owners proposed to be assessed along Pinecone Road N. – the stretch of that road that leads to the new high school.
The area includes property in Le Sauk Township, which contains 20 parcels that would not be currently assessed but would be subject to future assessments if and when they annex into the city. And there are three properties within the city proposed to be assessed currently. The area in question is the length along Pinecone Road between 15th Street N. and 35th Street N.
At the last city-council meeting, council members discussed the preliminary assessments at great length, wondering whether to waive parts of the planned assessments or to give some kind of discounts. What is to be assessed to property owners are partial costs of the road reconstruction project on Pinecone in that area, as well as city water-and-sewer improvements if the properties should ever be annexed into the city.
Council members Pat Lynch and Mike Chisum questioned whether or not homeowners on that stretch will benefit directly from the reconstructed and widened road. If not, why should they be assessed for part of its cost? The new school is the driving force behind the reconstructed road; the homeowners there just happen to be living on the road’s edges, Lynch noted. How is “more traffic” a benefit to those neighbors?, Chisum mused.
Each homeowner would be assessed about $1,500 for road costs, said Sartell City Engineer Jon Halter. Road assessments to property owners comprise 35 percent of the total cost of a standard residential street – not the actual cost of the road work for the wider street being constructed on the route to the new high school.
The road there is currently 24 feet wide; it will be 45 feet wide.
The council came to an informal consensus that assessments should not be waived for a number of reasons, including not wanting to set a bad precedent. The council, however, did seem to favor waiving a $450 annexation request fee and will consider a reduction of water and sewer access charges if any of the homes in that area annex to the city within a certain time period. Access charges are fees charged separately from the assessments at the time a home connects to city water and sewer.
Currently there are 23 properties subject to assessment or future assessments. They include one house now within the city limits (its preliminary assessment costs are $13,200), Celebration Lutheran Church (assessments of $30,600) and the new high school ($950,000 assessment to the school district). The other properties, 20 parcels, are now located in township territory along Pinecone Road.
Any current assessments would be payable over the course of a 15-year period at 4.5-percent interest, said Sartell City Administrator Mary Deviovanni.