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Special assessments are an additional tax levied on private property for public improvements that enhance the value of the property. The use of special assessments is an equitable means to finance the improvements while minimizing the demand on the City's property tax levy and statutory debt limitations. Special assessments are even more applicable if new improvements such as sanitary sewer or water are installed. Through special assessments, these utility costs are borne solely by the benefited property and not by the community at large. Special Assessments are typically payable over a period of years. The city’s current policy provides for special assessments to be collected with your property taxes over a 15 year period.
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Public improvements can include the construction of new roads and utilities (sewer and water) and the construction of curbs, gutters, and sidewalks. Public improvements also include major maintenance programs in existing neighborhoods when areas age and the infrastructure such as streets, sidewalks, sewers, and similar public facilities need updating.
There are laws that apply to all Minnesota cities when it comes to special assessments. Minnesota Statutes Chapter 429 gives cities authority to levy special assessments. Most cities follow the process outlined in state law. Some cities use a combination of special assessments and taxes to pay for public improvements, while some cities pay for them entirely through taxes.
New local roads and utilities are paid for by the developer at the time a subdivision is built, and the cost is passed on to the buyer of a lot or home in that subdivision. Reconstruction of aging roads is the City’s responsibility. In Lino Lakes, the City Charter supplements state law with additional procedures that include a general referendum if using a combination of special assessments and general fund dollars to fund improvements. According to an analysis by the League of Minnesota Cities, only Lino Lakes has a charter provision that requires a referendum on special assessments. The city has held four referendums to reconstruct certain aging local roads. Three have failed. If a referendum fails, the road cannot be reconstructed.
Maintenance consists of either overlaying or sealcoating. Overlaying is a maintenance activity that includes the patching of the existing street, milling the pavement adjacent to the curb, followed by the placement of a bituminous wearing course over the entire surface. Seal coating is a maintenance activity that places a thin layer of oil and rock on the street to enhance the surface and prolong the useful life of the street. These activities have been routinely performed by the City as part of its pavement management program. These projects are funded each year through the property tax levy as part of the City’s annual budget. This method is useful for smaller projects where the cost of the improvement has a negligible effect on property tax rates and where improvements have a shorter-term benefit.
The selection of streets for these maintenance activities is determined by the City’s Pavement Management Ratings called the Overall Condition Index (OCI). All streets within the City are routinely rated. Streets rated 70 to 100 are in the adequate category. These streets are considered for sealcoating. Streets rated 40 to 70 are in the marginal category. These streets are considered for overlays as well as sealcoats based on their ratings and available funding.
Streets rated in the 0 to 40 range typically need substantial subgrade corrections and require reconstruction. In this case, an overlay or "lift" on a street in this category would quickly return to its present problem condition. Because of the substantial cost involved these projects are typically funded through the issuance of bonds that spread the payments out over a longer period of time. The bonds are repaid through a combination of special assessments to benefited property and property tax levy.
Even with good routine maintenance, all streets have a limited life span, just like your driveway. Only a certain level of maintenance is cost-effective. The City can continue to patch to maintain accessible streets, but potholes will continue to occur, leaving streets in an unsightly manner and rough condition, as well as a possible safety hazard to you and your vehicle. Maintaining local streets also helps maintain everyone’s property values.
The stakes tell the contractor where new pipe and drainage structures go for the storm sewer and water main. This includes areas where manholes must be raised or lowered and hydrants moved.
No. The new street will be about the same width and in the same location as it is now. The paint mark indicates where the driveway will be cut to match the grade on the new street. Minor grade changes are being made to improve drainage, and driveways will require some grading to match. If you are having your driveway replaced as part of the street construction project, the portion of the driveway beyond the paint mark, adjacent to the street, will be paid as part of your street assessment.
If you want to help limit stress to trees and shrubs near the excavation areas, the best thing you can do is add water. Watering trees and shrubs before and during reconstruction will lessen any impacts to root loss or root exposure. The healthier the tree or shrub, the more it can tolerate. The contractor will minimize impacts to root zones by not stockpiling excavated materials near the driplines, by limiting excavation near trees as much as possible, and by cutting significantly exposed roots clean to promote callusing or new root proliferation.
When it rains more than a little, construction has to stop to avoid turning everything into mud. If soil is too moist, it turns to ruts and clumps when graded and cannot be properly compacted to build a good street. If grading is started before the surface is somewhat dry, the moisture is pumped deeper into the soil, making more mud. Muddy conditions can also limit accessibility when excavated soil must be hauled to other sites.
Digging is necessary to meet the different requirements for each utility. Furthermore, health department regulations specify a minimum distance between the utilities to prevent cross-contamination if a leak occurs. The sanitary sewer must be deep enough to pick up the sewage coming out of the pipes under the basement floors, while the water main and services need to be a minimum of 7.5 feet deep to keep them from freezing. Storm sewer, however, is kept as shallow as possible so it does not conflict with other utilities. Finally, when utility work is complete, streets are excavated to remove bad soils and install sand and the pavement section.
The contractor will make a reasonable effort to notify residents of schedule changes caused by weather, delays by subcontractors, or other unforeseen events. Check your door for written notices of upcoming work that may have been delayed.