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BE street assessments lowered

By Staff | May 10, 2015

The residents of the Royal Acres section of Blue Earth are going to get a nice surprise later this year.

They are going to have to pay about one fourth of what they thought their assessment was going to be for a mill and overlay street project to be completed later this summer.

“We made a mistake in our calculations,” city engineer Wes Brown says. “It means everyone should see their estimated assessment decreased to one fourth what was originally listed.”

Instead of using the full length of the project 4,423 feet the estimates used just 1,694 feet when dividing the total cost of the project to find the cost for running foot.

That gave a false figure of $38.42 per frontage foot for the assessment for the street work. Using the correct number, the assessment went down to $14.71 per foot.

And, that was not the only item at last Monday night’s Blue Earth City Council meeting that caused the decrease in the assessment amount. For over a half hour, the council debated a change in the assessment policy itself.

The current policy stated that pie-shaped or trapezoidal-shaped lots (those not rectangular) would be assessed based on a formula that took into account lot size, and not just the amount of feet along the front of the property.

The Street Committee had recommended that the trapezoidal formula be scrapped and that all lots be assessed just on the amount of feet along the front of the property.

Mayor Rick Scholtes disagreed.

“We have already assessed 18 lots in town using this trapezoidal way of measurement,” he said. “I don’t think it is fair to those people to change it now.”

Despite city staff stating the change in the assessment policy could be postponed until the project is completed, Scholtes insisted a vote be taken on the policy before the vote on whether to do this summer’s proposed projects was taken.

Scholtes voted no to changing the policy, but the rest of the council voted for the change, and the motion passed 6-1.

There was more animated discussion before the vote to accept a bid for the street work itself0, which includes utility and street paving on Smith and North Circle Drives, as well as the mill and overlay on Tanglewood and Oak Knoll Court.

Councilman Glenn Gaylord repeated his concerns with the mill and overlay portion of the project and questioned whether it was needed at this time and said it should be postponed.

The rest of the council disagreed, however, and the vote was 6-1, with Gaylord casting the no vote, to accept the low bid for the project.

That bid was from Ulland Brothers Construction and came in at $1,131,260. Approximately $124,000 of the bid is for the mill and overlay portion of the project.

In other business at Monday’s meeting, the council:

Met the new full time employee at the Blue Earth Wine and Spirits store, Dave Olson. Olson told the council he has lived in Blue Earth his whole life and is a retired military person.

Granted permission for the 6th Annual Jam the Food Shelf event to be held at the swimming pool and Putnam Park on the second Thursday of June. The group raised $5,000 in cash and 1,300 food items for the local food shelf last year.

Passed a new Nepotism Policy, governing how relatives of City Council members and department supervisors can be hired to work for the city.