Assessments lower than expected for Waconia projcet

Although few, if any, property owners are excited to face an assessment, the 15 property owners being assessed for the 2013 Infrastructure Project in Waconia are likely pleased that the assessments on their properties are approximately 30 percent lower than estimates provided in the project’s feasibility study. The final assessment roll for the project was approved by the Waconia City Council during its meeting on Monday, Sept. 16.
The final cost of the 2013 Infrastructure Project is $800,208, which is $262,792 or 24.7 percent lower than the preliminary estimate. Of that $800,208 final cost, $726,101 is city cost and the remaining amount, $74,107.41, is the amount that will be assessed to affected property owners. This figure is 29.9 percent lower than the estimate provided by the feasibility study, which had assessments totaling $105,699.86.
According to City Engineer Jake Saulsbury of Bolton & Menk, the primary reason for the lower than anticipated project costs are low contractor bid prices due to a downturn in the construction industry which was still evident when this project was bid. Saulsbury also noted that the price is lower because the city completed some of the items originally scheduled to be completed by the contractor.
The amount being assessed to each property varies based on the front footage of each property but the assessments range from $2,671.50 to $5,841.68, with the majority of the assessments being in the $5,500 range. At 4 percent over 10 years, the annual assessment payments range from $329.37 to $720.23. At 4 percent over 15 years, the payments range from $240.28 to $525.41.
A public hearing for affected property owners will be held at city hall at 6 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 21. A copy of the proposed assessment roll is on file for public inspection in the office of the city clerk during regular business hours.
Also during the meeting, the council approved the purchase of five tax forfeited parcels of land in Waconia and will pursue the acquisition of two other parcels in the coming months.
As explained by City Administrator Susan Arntz, the county is planning a tax forfeited sale of various properties in Waconia this fall and the city has the ability to request that these parcels be withheld from the sale if the city has a public use or purpose for them.
After reviewing the list, city officials identified seven parcels for which the city has a public purpose. The first four are located in the Legacy Village Development (three being existing wetlands and another being the playground) and should have been deeded to the city by the developer. A fifth parcel is a remnant of a parcel located in the Interlaken Development that will someday be attached to another parcel in the development for a future business park as well as road right of way. These five parcels have an appraised value of $100 each.
The other two parcels are located in the Interlaken Development. At one time, both had large assessments attached to them, assessments that have since been lost to the tax forfeiture process.
The city is going to work with Ryland Homes, the current developer for much of the Interlaken Development, to acquire these parcels for economic development purposes. The parcels have an appraised value of $100,000 and $58,000 respectively. Should the city not work out an arrangement with Ryland Homes for the parcels, the city will not be obligated to purchase them as long as it notifies the county within six months.
In other matters:
• The Waconia Fire Department will hold its Fall Pancake, French Toast and Sausage Breakfast from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 6. Tickets are $6 (children age 5 and under are free) and are available from firefighters and at the door.
• The Waconia Lions Club donated approximately $8,000 to the city earmarked for the installation of five flag poles adjacent to the American flag pole and monuments commemorating veteran service in City Square Park.
The new poles would display the flags of the five branches of service and would encompass the outer circle of the commemorative area. The flags would be donated, including future replacements, by the American Legion and VFW. The goal is to have the new poles installed before Veterans Day (Nov. 11) this fall.
• Waconia Firefighter Eric Hedin has offered his voluntary resignation, which the council accepted. The city is currently looking to fill this vacancy.
• Over the past several months, the city has been searching for a new Planning Director.
As a result of this process and the applicant pool that has been has attracted so far, city officials and the Personnel Committee have modified the job description and are now seeking a Community Development Director.  The position still includes planning duties but will also feature some community and economic development activities along with increases in the years of general experience and supervisory experience.
As explained by Arntz, the belief is that the new position will lead to an increased and more dynamic applicant pool. City officials hope to fill the position by mid-November.
• By participating in a solar power system arrangement at the ice arena with Innovative Power Systems and JJR Power, the city stands to realize annual savings of at least $1,000 for the first five to seven years after the system is in place and $5,000 annually afterwards.
The city has no upfront costs or out-of-pocket costs associated with the installation of this system, which is expected to provide 10 percent of the power needed by the arena.
• The city’s compost site will be open from 8 a.m. to noon on the following Saturdays: Sept. 28, Oct. 12, Oct. 26 and Nov. 2. It will also be open from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 23.
• The council’s next meeting will be held at city hall at 6 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 7.

Contact Todd Moen at todd.moen@ecm-inc.com

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