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Nearly 20 brave weather to attend meeting

By Staff | Feb 1, 2010

Kathy Bailey

Residents of Blue Earth’s Fourth Street got a preliminary look at what a project on their street will cost.

At a hearing held Monday night, 18 residents listened to a presentation including the engineer’s estimate of the total cost.

The bottom line – $2.8 million.

The project consists of a new sanitary sewer line ($492,400), storm sewer line ($1,061,100), water main ($259,800), and street, curb and gutter ($998,500).

Scheduled for this summer, the project will cover five and a half blocks of Fourth Street, from Galbraith west to Holland.

The new lines will cross Main Street, but City Engineer Bill Sayre, of Bolton and Menk Engineering, says the street will not be torn up.

“We put in new sewer mains under Main Street and so we just have to connect to them before the intersection,” Sayre says. “We will have to make one small trench in the street to put in the water line, however.”

The rest of Fourth Street will be completely torn up, Sayre says, and will probably take most of the summer to accomplish the job.Part of the project will involve widening Fourth Street from 30 feet to 36 feet. Three feet will be taken from the boulevard on both sides of the street. Sayre says a couple of trees may have to be removed.

He also reported that the Street Committee now recommends all new sidewalks be included in the project.

“That cost will be split 50/50 between the homeowner and the city,” he says.

As to the rest of the project, City Administrator Kathy Bailey says the assessments will be handled under the new policy, just as previous projects on Moore Street were done.

“The cost of the storm sewer, sanitary sewer and water mains will be covered by utility funds,” she says. The money is raised through charges on resident’s monthly utility bills.

“The property owner will be assessed for their individual lines which run from the new mains to the curb,”

she says.

The property owner will also be assessed for 30 percent of the new street, curb and gutter, with the entire city paying for the other 70 percent.

An average size lot on the Fourth Street project appeared to have an assessment of just under $9,000, according to estimates given at Monday’s meeting. Bailey says the assessment can be added to the property owner’s taxes and spread over 15 years.

“The interest rate would be 1 1/2 percent over what the city is charged for the bond interest,” she explains. “That rate could be three percent or less.”

The city has the option of spreading the project payments over as much as 20 years, Bailey says.

She also adds that the city needs to assess at least 20 percent of the cost of the project to the property owners, as part of state law.

“We are close to that now, so we can’t lower how much we assess to the property owner,” she explains. “However, senior citizens on fixed lower incomes and military personnel may qualify for lower assessments.”

Bailey says the new assessment policy is an attempt by the city to keep the assessments affordable for city residents, while still improving streets and infrastructure in the city.