Waconia approves assessments for 2013 project

Two citizens offered their feedback on assessments during a public hearing regarding the 2013 Infrastructure Rehabilitation Project that was held during the Waconia City Council meeting on Monday, March 3.
The public hearing gave residents an opportunity to address the proposed assessment roll for the project, which was completed last year. The project included a bituminous overlay of all streets in the Ravenwood and Hilltop neighborhoods, bituminous overlay of Sparrow Road from TH 284 to Niagara Street, trail improvements along Ravenwood Drive, trail improvements in the Sugarbush neighborhood and park from Sugarbush Lane to Waconia Parkway N, and street, utility and drainage improvements in an older area of the city near the lake.
The total cost of the project is estimated at $800,208 with assessable work affecting approximately 15 properties at a cost of $74,107, which was more than $31,000 below the preliminary estimate.
Greg Prouix felt the assessment on his Lake Street property was unwarranted because he didn’t feel the project resulted in any special benefit to his property. City Attorney Mike Melchert disagreed, explaining that the primary special benefit in this case was the new road in front of the property. Prouix said he would like to see city documents that show an expected increase in the market value of his property as a result of the project and also asked the council to reconsider its assessment policy.
Dave Segner, a St. Bonifacius resident who owns property in Waconia, also commented on his displeasure of the city’s assessment policy and questioned the transparency of the assessment process. Mayor Jim Nash emphasized that nothing was done behind closed doors and that the process was followed as required by state statute and Segner was welcome to stop by city hall to view documentation that would prove it.
Before the council voted on whether or not to authorize the assessments, Councilor Marc Carrier acknowledged uneasiness with the costs that some citizens can face under the assessment policy. Councilor Charles Erickson noted that citizens can be hit with assessments for one project but not others and while he appreciated the feedback, using assessments was still probably the best way for the city to partly fund the project.
Councilor Lynn Ayers also expressed appreciation for the feedback but said she felt it was a fair process. Melchert added that the city has limited options to pay for these projects and that most communities use the 429 bond that allows assessments to be part of the mechanism that funds these types of projects.
The council approved the assessment roll by a vote of 4-1, with Carrier voting against.
Also during the meeting, the city recognized Steven Wert, who recently retired from the Waconia Fire Department after 25 years of service. Wert, who attended the meeting, noted that it was a pleasure to serve the city as a firefighter and he will miss playing in the annual softball tournament in New Germany. Wert reminded residents to be cautious when they encounter emergency responders on the roads and asked residents to stay safe.
In other matters:
• The 2014 Board of Appeal and Equalization Schedule has been released.
As explained on the city website, the city of Waconia contracts with the Carver County Assessor’s Office to provide property assessment services for the community. Waconia residents’ first official opportunity to appeal property valuation or class is at the City or Town Board of Review.
City officials suggest that residents call the Carver County Assessor’s office at (952) 361-1960 to discuss concerns and ask any questions. Residents may ask for an appointment for a physical review of their property. Residents may make their appeal in person, through a designated representative, or by sending a letter.
The local Board of Review Open Book meeting dates at the Carver County Assessor’s Office will be held April 21-25 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Carver County Courthouse (300 E 4th Street) in Chaska.
These dates cover: Waconia, Chaska, Norwood Young America, Hamburg, Carver, Victoria, Cologne, Hancock Township, Camden Township, San Francisco Township, Watertown, Chanhassen, New Germany, Mayer, Benton Township, Laketown Township, Hollywood Township and Waconia Township.
Watertown Township will be held at 6 p.m. on Monday, May 5. Dahlgren Township is set for 6 p.m. on Monday, May 12. Young America Township will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 13.
The County Board of Review & Equalization will convene at 5 p.m. on Monday, June 16.
• The city will be entering into an agreement with ISD #110 Community Education regarding user fees for use of facilities. User fees have been collected in the past but there was never a formal agreement in place. The agreement pertains to user fees at Brook Peterson Park (fee is based on the number of games played per year) and the Cedar Point Park tennis courts (fee is based on court use per hour), and confirmation of an invoicing and payment schedule. One reason this agreement was made is to satisfy a request made by the city’s auditors to do so.
• The council called for a public hearing regarding the possible creation of a TIF district in the Pine Business Park. The hearing will be held during the council meeting at 6 p.m. on Monday, April 21.
If approved, the TIF district would encompass three undeveloped parcels located in the Pine Business Park. Nash noted that calling for a public hearing did not mean the city was approving the TIF district, rather it is simply one of the many steps required in the TIF district process.
• Sarah Vilmain was appointed to the Commission on Aging. Her term ends Dec. 21, 2016. There are still three open seats on this commission — interested citizens may learn more by contacting city hall.
• Doug Rolf was appointed to the position of Maintenance Worker – Streets. Rolf, who has served as a Waconia firefighter since 1994, was one of five applicants for the position. His tentative start date is March 24.
• An interfund loan out of the general fund totaling $7,800 ($7,000 to the PEG fund and $800 to the Arena Fund) was approved. The loan will be repaid during the second quarter of 2014.
• The council’s next meeting will be held at Waconia City Hall at 6 p.m. on Monday, March 17.

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