City thinks about special evaluations on houses and businesses for street work | News

In what is shaping up to be one of city government’s biggest decisions in a generation, Carroll city council members are considering imposing so-called special assessments on certain street projects. The move could add hundreds to thousands of dollars each in costs to residents and business owners for roadworks that reach into the structural bowels of much of Carroll’s 64 miles of streets.

As such work will likely take place over a century or more, the city is considering special appraisals as some homes and businesses will benefit more than others in the short term, which will raise issues of fairness if taxpayers as a whole pay. the full invoice each year.

“It really is a matter of fairness,” said Terry Lutz, CEO of Clive-based McClure Engineering and former mayor of Fort Dodge.

Lutz, who advises the City of Carroll on the matter, said special assessments can become hot topics in communities with no recent history of use.

“They can be difficult publicly, politically,” Lutz said.

The current and newly elected City Council held a working session last week on the prospect of implementing special assessments starting with work planned for Adams Street, a $ 3 million project that will span from Highway 30 at 13th Street. Work, which will reach the street, utilities and other items, is expected to begin in late spring or early summer 2022, city officials say.

“It is a source of income to cover part of the costs,” said Mayor Eric Jensen.

The new city council and mayor will make the final call for special assessments, as further research and discussions are planned in the coming weeks. The Adams Street project is seen as a precedent for special assessments.

“This is a political decision for Council to make,” said City Manager Mike Pogge-Weaver.

The special assessments would likely only be applied to deep tear jobs, such as that planned for Adams Street, and not maintenance level asphalt pavements. Much of Adams Street has what’s known as alligator cracking, which means that simple layering is not enough to preserve infrastructure, Pogge-Weaver said.

As it stands, the city’s street works are funded by a combination of revenue sources – property taxes, state road use tax money, and tax dollars. of sale on local option.

If the city decides to resurrect the special appraisals, which were last widely used in Carroll in the 1940s-1960s, the value of the roadwork on the adjacent property will be calculated and those owners may be awarded a percentage of improvement.

Without special assessments, more of the burden of road works will go to property taxes and go into the local option sales tax fund.

In Adel, a growing community near Des Moines, the city has used special appraisals for years that can run as high as $ 5,000 to $ 20,000 per homeowner, Lutz said.

“It won’t be that high at Carroll,” Pogge-Weaver said. “It will definitely be in the hundreds or thousands of dollars.”

Iowa law allows landowners to pay special assessments over 15 years with interest of up to 9% per year. The charge is included on the property tax bills.

In addition, categories of properties exempt from local taxes, such as schools, churches and railroads, are also assessed.

As the city contemplates the Adams Street project, other questions arise: How are sidewalks managed? Should some trees fall? Do all ash trees, due to the threat posed by the emerald ash borer, on the project route need to be removed?

“Is it time to remove them because they are ash trees,” said Randy Krauel, director of public works.

McClure Engineering is expected to present some potential costs to homeowners and other properties on Adams Street as part of a special valuation plan at a December 13 city council meeting. Council members will review them, but take no action until a larger plan is crafted – if elected officials even decide to go ahead.

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