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Park Rapids assessment policy seems unfair to some residents

PARK RAPIDS - Two citizens thought assessments were distributed unfairly for street and utility improvement projects in Park Rapids.

Judy Garden and Patricia Berg live on Eagle Drive, one of the streets that received improvements this year. They attended a public hearing Wednesday to tell the Park Rapids City Council their concerns.

"I felt that we should just divide it 10 equal ways on the assessment instead of assessing each one of us," Garden said.

Some people will benefit from the project more than others, she explained. One person, for example, doesn't even use the road, she said, yet is assessed for the street and curb and gutter.

"I just think it's really unfair when those people who probably are going to be paying the least are going to be using it the most," Garden said.

Mayor Nancy Carroll said the city is following its assessment policy, which is based on the front footage.

"I'm not saying it's not nice to have a tarred road, curb and gutter. It looks great. I just don't feel it's a fair assessment," Garden said.

Berg echoed what Garden said. She also thought the assessment should have been divided equally. She was also concerned about having two sides assessed.

"That's a lot of money," Berg said.

Ulteig Engineers representative Jon Olson said one of the sides should have a cost break on it. He said he would double check the numbers with her later.

"It's gonna be a hardship for me," Berg said. "I'm on a fixed income."

Berg also said that the road has already gotten icy, though, something that didn't happen with the gravel road.

The public hearing also included information about assessments for other streets. Olson presented information about Bear Path Drive, Eagle Drive, Edmond Drive, Hollinger Street and Eastern Avenue.

On Bear Path Drive, just a bituminous overlay was put on. Eagle Drive, which had been a gravel street, was paved and some curb and gutter were put in. Street, curb and gutter, and some storm sewer were improved on Edmond Drive.

Hollinger Street and a small portion of Eastern Avenue received the most improvements. The existing gravel street was paved with bituminous, some sanitary sewer and sewer and water service were improved, and a sidewalk was added to the north side of the street.

The city's special assessment policy says streets are assessed at 60 percent for the existing streets and 100 percent for new streets. Sanitary sewer services and storm sewer are assessed at 100 percent. Sidewalks are assessed at 50 percent.

"The remaining 40 percent and 50 percent on streets and sidewalks is the city portion on improvements," Olson said.

The total assessment is $423,614.15. The assessment is for 15 years at 6 percent interest.

The breakdown of cost for Bear Path Drive was about $18,000, with $10,800 assessable and $7,200 city share.

For Eagle Drive, the project was $85,200, with $36,000 assessable. The city's share was $49,200.

Edmond Drive's total project was $208,900, with $155,900 assessable and $53,000 city share.

For the Hollinger Street project the total was $358,400, with $221,000 assessable and $137,400 city share.

Four letters of objection were also filed with the city for the improvement projects.

The city council adopted the assessments.