Isanti changes approach on assessing properties for street improvements

The Isanti City Council is taking a slightly different direction when it comes to the assessing of properties directly connected with street projects. 

Prior to a public hearing on the 6th Ave Rehabilitation and Improvement project at their March 4 city council meeting, the city approved a revision of its special assessment ordinance at its Feb. 18 council meeting. The previous ordinance took into account any financial assistance received from the county, state, or federal government before assessing property owners for the cost of street improvements. The revised ordinance allows for the assessment of property owners for the full cost of street improvements, despite any financial assistance received by outside entities.

During the March 4 meeting, the council heard comments and answered questions from residents that will be affected by the 6th Avenue Rehabilitation and Improvement project, scheduled for summer 2020.

Before public comments and questions were received by the council, City Engineer Jason Cook presented the scope of the project, as well as the costs associated, how the project will be financed, and how residents living along the route will be assessed.

An open house took place Feb. 25 regarding the project, with about nine people in attendance, according to Cook. 

He went over the scope of the project and projected costs. The street mill and overlay, along with any curb and gutter repair needed is estimated at approximately $293,300. Replacing the water main to make it consistent with the rest of the city is expected to cost approximately $67,800. Construction of a new concrete sidewalk is estimated at $212,000. The total cost of the project is approximately $577,400.

“Of that, and the purpose of this hearing today, is the assessment portion, which, according to city policy is 25% of the eligible street costs,” Cook said, noting the assessable amount can get distributed over the assessable frontage of the project and is about $32.57 per front foot for each parcel on the project, or an average of $2,700 to each parcel.

The numbers are based on an engineer’s estimate, and final costs will not be known until the project is completed, he added.

“Was there any state aid funding on this project?” asked Council Member Steve Lundeen.

Cook explained that the entire project is state aid eligible, excluding the water main replacement. 

“So, the other portions of the cost are expected to be covered by state aid funding,” he said.

“So the city really doesn’t have that cost, but we are still assessing the 25% of the street improvements even though the state is covering the cost?” asked Council Member Jim Gordon.

“So, part of the uniformity, that fairness to all residents, because we determine which routes are state aid routes, and its not really dependent on where people live, to be fair to all residents we assessed at the same portion of their street no matter where they are, no matter if they are on a state aid route or not. We’re just being consistent with that assessment procedure,” Cook explained.

“So we assessed that even though the state will be covering the cost, but that money will be used for other street projects so your spreading it around to keep it fair for everybody involved,” Gordon said.

Residents question project

A few residents presented questions to the council regarding this year’s project.

“My driveway falls on Cedar Street, it doesn’t fall on Sixth Avenue, but I still have to pay the cost. My neighbor who uses this road on a daily basis multiple times gets away scott-free, right?” asked resident Ryan Ingberg. “So then what happens five years from now when Cedar Street gets done and he gets hit, but I still get hit, yet again. Now I’m paying whatever and then I get hit from Cedar Street.”

He was told corner lot assessments are discounted by half. 

Another resident asked questions regarding her grass being torn up due to the sidewalk being installed and what would happen to that, about a tree that would be taken down due to the sidewalk construction, and the width of her driveway.

She was told any grass destroyed by the project would be replaced, the tree would not be replaced, and to come back and talk to Sellman about her options regarding her driveway.

Business subsidy for BP Metals

The city council approved a development and business subsidy agreement with BP Metals following a public hearing. BP Metals entered a purchase agreement with the economic development authority (EDA) Feb. 18 for the sale of EDA land located at 825 East Dual Boulevard – one of the EDA’s shovel ready industrial lots. 

The sale of the land was for $1, which triggers a business subsidy agreement, according to Community Development Director Sheila Sellman.

The 2017 land appraisal indicates the site is worth $210,000, has always been advertised for $1, and the city has held the land for future development, according to Sellman, noting in her memo to the council that a key decision on the sale was the user and the job growth they are bringing into the city.

When BP Metals opens, it will start with 20 employees and plans for expansion could result in up to 40 employees.

BP Metals is owned by an Isanti resident and has been in operation since 2000 in the city of Blaine, where it has outgrown its space, according to the memo.

Mayor Jeff Johnson stated he, Sellman, and City Administrator Josi Wood toured the BP Metal facility, meeting the owner and his wife. “Remarkable company, remarkable owners, remarkable better half,” he said. “I would personally say I’m more than proud to have this business come to Isanti, he’s a resident within the city, anyway.”

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