Open house focuses on street management plan

The city of Elk River’s Pavement Management Program was created to maximize the lifespan of city streets through cost efficient maintenance and rehabilitation. Today, more than 80 percent of city streets are in good to excellent condition, according to city officials. However, because many miles of streets were constructed in the same time period, the city is strategically planning to minimize future maintenance and repair costs. Scheduled assessments for 2013 are as high as $8,000 for some homeowners and $20,000 for the average business.

The Elk River City Council discussed the long-term funding needs of the Pavement Management Program at five council meetings since last July. The council is considering a dedicated franchise fee to fund street maintenance.

A franchise fee is the rent cities may legally charge utility franchises for their use of city rightof-way. A right-of-way includes the street and approximately 15 feet on either side for placement of public utilities, private utilities and snow storage. The proposed program would dedicate franchise fees assessed to electric and gas service providers using rights-of-way for city street maintenance. The proposed increased costs of $5 for electric and $4 on residential gas bills woud likely be passed on to utility customers by the utility companies, according to the city.

City assessments for street reconstruction projects comprise only 33 percent of the total construction and improvement costs. The remaining costs are paid through the general tax levy, often after selling street reconstruction bonds.

The monthly utility fees would replace the general tax levy dedicated to street reconstruction as well as assessments homeowners and businesses face when their neighborhood undergoes major street work. The dedicated fee program would reduce the impact to taxpayers through timely street maintenance and the elimination of interest and bonding costs.

The plan includes a fee rebate for ratepayers who have recently been assessed for street repair costs in their neighborhood. The city currently does major street projects every two years and would rebate the franchise fees paid by any property owner still paying an assessment.

For more information, go to www.elkriverMN.gov under the ‘Elk River Listens’ link to view the blog and submit your thoughts about the Pavement Management Program.

An open house is scheduled 4-7 p.m. Thursday, April 4, at City Hall, 13065 Orono Parkway, to further discuss the details of the plan and answer questions.

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