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More residents call for change in assessments

Senior citizens -- and a sprinkling of younger couples -- who came to hear how much rebuilt streets will cost them next year, filled the DeForth Community Room, at St. Paul Park City Hall Aug. 23.

City Engineer Jeff Roos spoke to residents from the east side of town about the 2007 proposed street rebuilding project, at the meeting.

"The cost to homeowners will be $89 per front foot of property plus any repairs to water or sewer problems," Roos said.

"For a 70-foot to 80-foot lot, the estimated assessment is about $7,000," Roos said. "Estimates are based on the city's current assessment policy and the costs of the last street reconstruction."

"A lot of the people here are on fixed incomes," said Irv Jerry, who lives on Lincoln Avenue. "What do they do?"

Roos said homeowners could pay the total figure with no interest or finance it over 15 years at 6 or 7 percent interest through the city.

"The City Council has hired a consultant to look at costs," the engineer said. "They should have a decision on a new assessment policy next April. It's all being analyzed; they want to be as fair as possible to everyone."

Responding to a question asked about hardship cases, Roos said the city has not developed a hardship policy. "It has been discussed but the parameters haven't been set."

"In a hardship case, a different type of payment is allowed, but the assessment doesn't go away," Roos said.

Granville Smith, who lives on Selby Avenue, asked how the city had arrived at the formula for paying 25 percent of street reconstruction, with homeowners paying 75 percent.

"They looked at the size of the project and what the city could put into it," Roos said. "Most cities contribute 30 to 50 percent, but the city that pays more has higher property taxes."

Roos said the east side project will include five blocks of Lincoln Avenue, approximately three blocks of Summit Avenue, an alley between 13th Avenue and Pullman Avenue and a portion of Pullman Avenue on each side of the railroad crossing.

"In addition to the streets, we will install concrete instead of bituminous curbs, repair any water and sewer problems and install safety medians at three railroad crossing," he said.

Before the City Council makes a decision to advertise bids for the 2007 street rebuilding project, a public hearing will be held in late September or early October, Roos said. And prior to a final decision, the council will call for an assessment hearing to explain final costs.