Assessment hearing held for $4.2 million construction project
Woodbury residents living on Wooddale Drive, Tower Drive, Woodlane Hills, Woodcliff and Cochrane Drive will be assessed for a $4.2 million road rehabilitation project this year.
Woodbury City Council held an assessment hearing Wednesday, May 25, where City Engineer Klayton Eckles explained the scope of the project and how benefiting properties will be assessed.
Residential properties will be charged one-third of the cost over a 15-year period at a 4 percent interest rate, while commercial properties are typically assessed 90 to 100 percent of the cost depending on the type of road they're on, he said.
More than seven miles of streets will be fixed up beginning in June with a tentative October completion date.
Most streets included in the projects were built in the 1960s and 70s and vary from 32 feet wide to 52 feet. They have concrete curb and gutter and storm sewer.
The Pavement Condition Index (PCI), a method that identifies street conditions, scores roads on a zero-to-100 scale. Streets in the 2011 rehabilitation project range in PCI from the very lowest - a zero score - to the low 70s, Eckles said.
Most of the funding for the project will come from the city's street and reconstruction fund. The rest will be assessed to property owners, Eckles said.
Nearly 800 properties will be affected. Assessments are determined on a per unit basis, varying from $148 to a total of $1,678, he added.
Though the assessment amounts may seem like a large variation, Eckles said it's all dependent on the land use. Some of the lower amounts are multi-family units on Cochrane Drive, while others in Woodlane Hills, for example, are single-family lots.
Residents can choose to pay full amounts by June 24 or finance them with equal payments over a 15-year term.
So far the city received two objections from residents and one from a business affected by the road reconstruction project.
Jerzy and Maria Belczak objected to their assessment amount, saying they are senior citizens living on a fixed income at Wyndham Bay.
"We do NOT have any extra money to pay $1,677.81 for this city project," they wrote in a letter to the council.
The project will be completed neighborhood by neighborhood. Assessments are divided up among each of the 235 homes in Belczak's neighborhood resulting in the amount of $1,678 for each property, according to city engineer Aaron Nelson.
Senior citizens who may find hardship paying the assessments are asked to file for deferral. Their current market value must be below $211,330, said Deb Score, city accounting technician.
Additionally, the annual assessment must exceed 1 percent of any senior citizen's household gross income to be eligible.
Dido Kotile, resident of Hamlet Drive, also affected by the reconstruction, is objecting to the entire project saying it's not good timing for the residents.
In a letter to the city, Kotile said he was not given enough notice to pay the assessment amount of $1,677.81.
"This kind of project should be planned and it should be a five-year plan so that people are given notice in advance," Kotile wrote. "If it is a five-year plan, it is possible to spread it over the annual property tax payment."
Those who don't pay their amounts in full will accrue interest back to May 25 when the public hearing was held, and it will be added to their property taxes every year.
The third objection was filed prior to the council meeting Wednesday by KRS Properties, LLC, located at Wooddale Drive.
"The assessment as proposed is arbitrary, capricious, confiscatory and unreasonable; that the formula adopted for the assessment is based upon an erroneous theory of law ... " wrote Kevin Shoeberg, attorney for KRS Properties.
Council member Amy Scoggins asked if some of the streets could be put off since they're currently in good condition based on PCI numbers.
"It would be very, very inefficient to go out and start hitting just the low-rated sections," Eckles responded, adding that rehabbing all problem areas at once would reduce the need to go back and disrupt those neighborhoods again.
Additionally, assessments would end up being higher since the number of benefiting properties would decrease, he said.
The project will be broken down by neighborhood as following:
Wooddale Drive and Woodlane Drive (Wooddale Drive to 2,300 feet north), Tower Drive (Valley Creek Road to 4,000 feet south), Woodlane Hills, Woodcliff and Cochrane Drive (Courtly Road to Woodlane Drive) and School Drive.
To find out when each neighborhood is scheduled for construction, contact the city's engineering department at 651-714-3593.
The School Drive portion of the project will be fixed up before turning it over to the South Washington County School District for maintenance and any future upgrades.
Council member Christopher Burns questioned why it's necessary to fix up the road and then turn it over to the school district.
Part of the road is public but the majority of it leads up to the school, which is why it'll become the district's responsibility once an agreement is reached, Eckles said.
"We can't compel the school to take the road," he added. "It was worth coming to that cooperative solution."
Bids for the project came in low and were "very competitive ... there is very, very good and stiff competition," Eckles said.
Council awarded the lowest bid to Asphalt Surface Technologies Corporation (ASTECH Corp.) with a base bid of $3,382,290.