Pavement Management assessments expected to fallA favorable bidding environment plus city utility fund contributions have dropped the expected cost of this year’s Pavement Management project by more than $1,000 per affected property, Cottage Grove officials said last week.
By: Jon Avise, South Washington County Bulletin
A favorable bidding environment plus city utility fund contributions have dropped the expected cost of this year’s Pavement Management project by more than $1,000 per affected property, Cottage Grove officials said last week.
City council and staff got an earful at a December meeting from irate homeowners among the 956 properties slated to fork over nearly $3,500 each in assessments resulting from the 2008 pavement reclamation work.
But the low bid for the $4.91 million project that was awarded Wednesday came in 12 percent less than city staff estimated. That, and an alteration in the assessment policy that meant all work relating directly to water pipes or mains be paid from the water utility fund, means assessments are projected to cost between $2,200 to $2,400 — a significant savings in tough economic times.
The expected assessment totals per household are comparable to the Thompson Grove Pavement Management project of five years ago, city administrator Ryan Schroeder said. That is almost unprecedented, he said.
“We’re getting a project at the same cost that we got five years ago,” Schroeder said, “and that doesn’t happen very often.”
When upset residents pressed the city to postpone the road maintenance in December, saying the assessments were too big a hit on their pocketbook, staff and council members reiterated they believed Cottage Grove would be entering “an exceptional bidding environment.”
They were right. But staff also worked at finding a way to lessen the burden on property owners by dipping into utility funds to finance the trunk water main-related portion of the project that will affect just 90 homes in the area bounded by Hinton Avenue to the west, 65th Street to the north, Jamaica Avenue to the east and 80th Street to the south.
The alteration to the assessment formula flies in the face of what many who were upset said that night — that Cottage Grove officials would do what they pleased, regardless of their concerns.
“This adjustment in funding from the water utility is a direct result of citizen input,” said council member Pat Rice.
The initial high assessment estimates were done in part to avoid a scene reminiscent of last fall when businesses affected by the Jamaica Avenue roundabouts saw their projected piece of the project balloon — significantly for some — when construction neared completion.
“We learned something from the roundabouts, where we suggested a certain assessment level and then it went up — a lot,” Schroeder said. “We didn’t want to do that again.”
City council members on Wednesday also passed a motion directing staff to prepare an ordinance allowing partial prepayment of assessment costs. Currently, state statute allows such a practice, but officials said the city has no mechanism to accept what are essentially down payments intended to lower later assessment payments.
Construction is scheduled to begin this spring with completion expected in September. A neighborhood meeting to discuss specific project elements is scheduled for next month.
Jon Avise can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.