Final sidewalk assessments planned before repair policy change

Jan. 7—ROCHESTER — The anticipated final assessments under a changing sidewalk-replacement program will be presented to the Rochester City Council Monday.

The 81 property owners being assessed a combined $67,109 for sidewalk work conducted in 2022 were left off a similar list in November, because work was not completed until October.

"Because of the work taking place so late in the year, these assessments missed the last hearing in 2022," Public Works Construction Permits and Assessments Technician Kelly Peterson wrote in a report to the council.

In November, the council approved the earlier assessments and voted to revise the sidewalk replacement program, opting for district fees to fund work starting in 2023, rather than individual assessments to property owners.

In December, the remaining property owners were notified of the lingering assessments.

At least one property owner is questioning the related bill, which is the third highest among the 81 reported for Monday's meeting.

"This is a hardship that I don't feel I should have to endure, knowing that within 19 days the ordinance was to be approved," Paula Boos wrote in a Jan. 2 letter to the city, regarding a $3,010 assessment for replacing the majority of her sidewalk at her Southeast Rochester home.

The highest reported assessment for the final work in 2022 was $3,527 for Rochester Community Baptist Church, 1046 Sixth Ave. SE.

Of the 81 assessments presented for a public hearing during Monday's council meeting, 26 were $1,000 or more.

In November, council members and city staff pointed out that such assessments will be a thing of the past, once the city's new Sidewalk Improvement District program is implemented this year.

The plan will continue the practice of rotating most sidewalk repairs through 20 project areas outside of the downtown core, with the goal of making repairs in one section each year.

The change, however, will be how the city pays for the work on sidewalks that are considered private property with public access.

Each of the 20 project areas have been placed into one of six districts, with the cost being spread throughout the district as a fee paid with property taxes.

The exact amount of fees charged will be determined by the work done in each district, but early estimates suggest the average annual cost for homeowners is expected to be $36, with non-residential property owners seeing an average annual cost of $207.

Exact amounts will be added to property tax statements after work is completed in a district, starting with Southeast Rochester this year..

To address assessments that have been paid in recent years, property owners who have paid for city-mandated sidewalk repairs in the past five years will not pay the new fees for at least five years, with the actual period being dictated by the city's repair schedule.

Tyler Niemeyer, Rochester's assistant city engineer, said Boos' 2022 assessment means she wouldn't be charged an annual fee until 2029, to contribute to 2028 sidewalk repairs slated for southeast Rochester.

Owners of the other 80 properties on the assessment list will be able to appeal to join Boos in appealing the charges during Monday's council meeting at 7 p.m. in council chambers of the city-county Government Center.

All submitted appeals will be reviewed by city staff, with any results returning to the council Jan. 23.

Any approved assessments that are not paid will be submitted to be included in future property tax bills, dividing payments throughout five years, with 4.5% interest on the assessed amount.

Meetings scheduled to be held during the week of Jan. 9 include:

Rochester

* City Council study session, 3:30 p.m. Monday In council chambers of the city-county Government Center, 151 Fourth St. SE. The meeting will livestream at

www.rochestermn.gov/meetings/council-meetings

and be available on Spectrum cable channel 180 or 188 and Metronet channel 80.

* City Council, 7 p.m. Monday in council chambers of the Government Center. The meeting will livestream at

www.rochestermn.gov/meetings/council-meetings

and be available on Spectrum cable channel 180 or 188 and Metronet channel 80.

* Rochester Police Policy Oversight Commission, 3:30 p.m. Tuesday in room 164B of the Development Services and Infrastructure Center, 4001 West River Parkway.

* Charter Commission, 3 p.m. Tuesday in room 104 of City Hall, 201 Fourth St. SE.

* Ethical Practices Board, 10:30 a.m. Wednesday in room 104 of City Hall.

* Energy Commission, 4:30 p.m. Wednesday in room 104 of City Hall.

* Planning and Zoning Commission, 6 p.m. Wednesday in council chambers of the Government Center.

Olmsted County

* Human Rights Commission, 6 p.m. Thursday in conference room 2 of the Government Center.

* Zoning Board of Adjustment, 6:30 p.m. Thursday in board chambers of the Government Center.

Rochester Public Schools

* School Board study session, 5 p.m. Tuesday in the boardroom of the Edison Building, 615 Seventh St. SW.