No assessments: Crosslake City Council votes 3-2 not to assess residents, businesses for sewer project
Vote came days after the council heard from angry business owners who cited lack of notice about the project's timeline, road closures and lack of assessment information for project that starts May 16
CROSSLAKE — No assessments.
Crosslake residents and businesses along the County State Aid Highway 66 sanitary sewer extension project route will not pay assessments for the project that will begin Monday, May 16.
That’s according to a 3-2 vote that occurred Wednesday, May 4, at a Crosslake City Council workshop to talk about assessments and connection fees for the $2.5 million project that’s been in the works since 2018.
The council will still hold a public hearing for residents and businesses to speak about this topic at 5 p.m. Monday, May 9, before a regular monthly council meeting at 7 p.m.
At the May 4 meeting, council members Marcia Seibert-Volz and Aaron Herzog voted against not assessing benefiting properties. Seibert-Volz has argued the city should follow its sewer ordinance, which she said specifically lists user categories.
Council member Dave Schrupp kicked off the meeting by reading a letter that outlined his reasons not to assess residents and businesses for the project.
Those reasons included:
- No one was assessed for the original sewer collection system installation.
- No residents or commercial entities on the original system were assessed.
- Assessment amounts for businesses appear to be unreasonable following city policy.
- Businesses asked for lower assessments, but that is impossible to do because of city policy.
“The assessment policy sounded great three to four years ago, but was not well received by city residents and businesses,” Schrupp wrote. “In the past we have not assessed road improvements because we have the ability to pay for bonds with general levy dollars. Not an issue so far.”
In response to an emailed question after the meeting, City Administrator Mike Lyonais said in an email that the project would be paid for in the following way, using rounded numbers:
- $500,000 cash up front from the city that would be reimbursed by Crow Wing County in 2024.
- $315,000 from a Crow Wing County Soil and Water Conservation District grant.
- $258,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds.
- $1.5 million in new general obligation improvement bonds, which includes the issuance costs.
The council also voted 4-1, with Seibert-Volz opposed, to change the residential sewer system connection fee to $5,500 and to change the commercial connection fee to $9,200.
At a special meeting Thursday, April 28, the council heard from angry business owners who said they were unaware of the project's timeline and their businesses will suffer with roadwork occurring during their busy summer season.
They also were unhappy with a sign that went up announcing CSAH 66 would be closed starting May 16.
The council also was berated for not having set possible assessments yet for the project.
The April 28 special meeting was set specifically to talk about assessments for the sewer extension project. Mayor Dave Nevin and Seibert-Volz had met and devised a new assessments plan that they presented to the council.
Other council members hadn’t had time to digest the plan, so the May 4 workshop was set to again discuss assessments and sewer connection fees.
The sewer project will take place in two phases, which Crosslake Chamber Director Cindy Myogeto outlined in an email sent to businesses:
- Phase one, from around Sundance Ridge Condominiums to Daggett Pine Road just past Marine 66, will start May 16 and is scheduled to be complete by July 4. Local traffic will detour from Daggett Bay Road (which travels past the City Administration/Police Department) to Daggett Pine Road; however, commercial traffic (semi-trailer trucks) would be asked to use County Road 1.
- Phase two, from just past Marine 66 to Moonlite Square convenience store, is scheduled to be complete in late August and will require a longer detour using either West Shore Drive for local traffic or County Road 1.
The agreed upon goal of the sewer project is to protect the lakes. What hadn’t been agreed upon was whether the affected property owners should pay the assessments or whether those costs should be spread among all Crosslake taxpayers.
The council did agree that “Road Closed” signs should be changed for the benefit of businesses.
Nancy Vogt, editor, may be reached at 218-855-5877 or email@example.com. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Nancy.