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Backus: Council sets meeting on property assessments

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The Backus City Council at its meeting Monday, Nov. 6, scheduled a public hearing to discuss a proposed special assessment to pay for part of an extensive street repair project. The hearing will be at 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 4.

The council decided during previous meetings that a large portion of the city's streets required significant repair to prevent them from deteriorating to the point that they need replacing. Mayor Kurt Sawyer again reiterated the immediate need for repair to protect the city streets from further deterioration. The goal is ultimately to prevent more costly street repairs later.

During the council's regular October meeting, council members requested a feasibility study for the project. Monday, the council reviewed the results of that study.

The city had previously decided to review a special assessment combined with bonds. City Engineer Jeff Ledin, of Short Elliott Hendrickson, presented the council with an estimate of the project's costs and the impact that would have on assessed properties.

The model used for the estimate assumed that 25 percent of the project costs would be paid by special assessment to any inhabitable property that has a connection to the street. This model does not charge according to how much space each property has adjacent to a street, and only assigns costs to those properties once per parcel. Overall, the projection estimates 150 parcels are connected to the streets to be repaired.

The cost of the project itself is estimated at approximately $759,000. Split among the 150 parcels, the total cost would be $1,266 per parcel with a 10-year payback period. With interest it is estimated to cost $172 annually over that 10-year period.

During that same time, the city of Backus would be making payments on bonds to pay the remaining cost. Those bond payments would be approximately $73,200 per year.

The council agreed to set a public hearing to gather opinions from city residents a half-hour before its Dec. 4 regular meeting. This meeting is just an early stage in exploring the city's options for paying for the street repair project.

In other business Monday, the council:

• Approved fund transfers in the fire department along with an adjustment to the relief association.

• Decided not to increase hangar fees at the municipal airport after comparing the Backus airport to similar airports.

• Learned the Cass County Economic Development Corp. has a business lined up to borrow a $50,000 revolving loan for expansion.

• Agreed to give an extension to a resident who asked the council not to certify her past due utility account to her taxes. She said she might lose her home if the balance was assessed to her taxes. She also arranged to pay the city the full amount in January and February.

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