LETTER: Band-Aids: a look at the road rehab projects in Woodbury
Our roads are falling apart and prematurely failing according to the city's task force committee. So we need to get these roads fixed. The problem is this: The city of Woodbury could not continue to pay for the prematurely failing road at the old assessment rate of a 33 percent charge to homeowners. So where would the needed money come from? From the homeowners, of course.
The city instituted a minimum assessment for each property owner in the roadway rehabilitation area. This minimum assessment did two things:
1) It put more of the monetary burden on the homeowners to pay for the road rehabilitation.
2) It allowed the city to do a minimal amount of work but still charge homeowners a "floor assessment."
In my neighborhood, the city came in and put a fresh coat of blacktop over the existing foundation, the potholes and the failing blacktop. They still charged each homeowner more than $2,800. My neighbor said it was like putting icing on a crumbly cake.
Should homeowners pay for road rehabilitation projects? Maybe, but how much are you willing to pay — 33, 50, 100 percent?
Let's talk real numbers. In 2016, the residential neighborhood rehabilitation was initially projected to cost $8,079,600 putting each homeowners' assessment at $3,097.37, once the floor assessment was put into place. Then the bids came in and, according to the city, the low-bid cost dropped to $6,206,672 decreasing our assessment to $2,862.60. According to the city's records, they assessed the homeowners and businesses $4,747,176.18 to do one of the road rehabilitation projects.
Now things get interesting. After the City Council adopted the assessment for the homeowners, they then awarded the contract to the low-bid company. The lowest bid from the contractor was $4,741,723.93.
Wait, what???!!! Contractor bid $4,741,723.93, homeowner's assessment, $4,747,176.18. Yep, they managed to apply a Band-Aid to our roadways by doing minimal work and collected from the taxpaying homeowners and businesses more than the amount of money they paid the contractor.
Looking ahead to 2017, one of the proposed projects takes the cake. The city is planning on a rehabilitation project for Upper Afton Road. That road is classified as a Municipal State Aid (MSA) roadway, which means it qualifies for partial funding from the state. The city of Woodbury is not planning on using any of this money for that road project. Instead, they are assessing homeowners who have an 80-foot-wide lot a whopping $9,009.80. Businesses will also share in the assessment costs. The proposed assessment for the Baptist church is more than $160,000 and the school district over $245,000.
Some people express gratitude that their roads were done before this or relief that their assessments were not that high. I would argue that this kind of policy affects every homeowner, business and church in our community.
While the city continues to spend our tax money on remodels and expansions, our basic infrastructure is falling apart and suffering a budget shortfall forcing the taxpayers to bear the financial burden of our failing roads.
Citizens of Woodbury, it's time to stand up and reign in our city's assessing and spending policies. As the old year winds down and 2017 approaches, commit to a new year's resolution with which you can stick. Come and join me at just one City Council meeting in 2017 in the soon-to-be newly remodeled City Council chambers and start asking some tough questions.
We must come together and speak up. What affects one person affects us all. See you there.