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Road work will bring special assessments PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mark Jaeger   
Wednesday, 25 January 2017 21:45

Initial projections for landowner charges range from $2,500 to $67,000

Village of Saukville officials and representatives from Reukert & Mielke, the village’s engineering firm, have been preparing residents for what is certain to be unwelcome news — the pending special assessments linked to the reconstruction of Church and Center streets.Saukville

The work — which will include the reconstruction of 1,500 feet of Church Street from Tower Street to Highway O, 550 feet of Center Street from South Railroad Street to South Dries Street and 300 feet of South Railroad Street between Church and Center streets — will start this spring and is scheduled to be completed by October.

Officials hosted the third public hearing on the road project last week at the police station meeting room. Prior meetings with residents were held as the planning reached the 30% and 60% stages.

This time, property owners came armed with estimated assessments for sewer, curb and sidewalk work. 

Those estimates for residents ranged from $2,572 to $15,218, although those numbers seemed relatively minor compared to the estimated $67,000 in assessments that will be owed on improvements made to the five parcels owned by Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, which is now part of St. John XXIII Parish.

Preliminary measurements show the parish will be responsible for the cost of installing 1,322 square feet of sidewalks, 1,320 square feet of asphalt driveways, 629 feet of curbs and gutters, 243 feet of sewer laterals and 81 square feet of driveway approaches.

Adding to the anticipated assessment costs, seven properties in the project area will also have to correct illegal sump pump connections to comply with village ordinances.

Project manager Sean Sullivan, who has been the spokesperson for the project throughout the planning process, offered background on the project during the hearing and fielded a host of questions from property owners clutching their assessments.

Sullivan explained that the ballpark numbers will be firmed up after the village receives bids on the work this week. The Village Board is expected to award the contract for the reconstruction at its Feb. 7 meeting.

Sullivan said the estimates were prepared using conservative numbers, adding that the actual assessments are likely to be “10% to 20% lower.”

Even at a lower rate, village officials said they realized the assessments will be seen as a hardship for many property owners.

As in previous special assessments, village trustees agreed to set up a financing plan based on the amount owed.

A resolution adopted by the Village Board last week says that property owners will have the option of paying off their assessments over five years if they are deemed to owe between $1,000 and $3,000. Those with assessments of between $3,000 and $5,000, will be given seven years, and those owing more than $5,000 will have 10 years to pay.

The first payments will not be due until Nov. 1, 2018.

At the suggestion of Trustee Dan Sauer, those choosing to pay off their assessments over time will be charged an interest rate of 2.75% — 1% lower than originally proposed in the resolution. The original charge was based on 1% above the prime rate.

“We won’t be paying 3.75% for the money we borrow,” Sauer said, noting the village’s favorable credit rating.

He said it would be more equitable to base the interest charge on the prevailing U.S. Treasury rate.

Once the bids are finalized, village officials said they will send out revised estimates for assessments. The final assessments will be determined after the work is completed.

Anticipating that the village’s power to make assessments might be challenged, Village Attorney Gerry Antoine was asked to prepare a memo on the rationale.

“For a century, Wisconsin municipalities have used special assessments to pay for street construction, curb and gutter, storm and sanitary sewer improvements, water mains, sidewalks and other public improvements,” Antoine said.

“Most of these improvements are located in the public right-of-way and not on private property, but the abutting properties enjoy the principle usage of these improvements and are clearly benefited by these improvements.”

Beyond the legal authority, Sullivan said property owners will see the proposed work will be well worth the cost and inconvenience.

“You will be amazed by the transformation you will see,” he said, adding that property owners often begin to make enhancements to their homes and yards after a public street project.

An effort will be made to minimize the removal of heritage trees, and new curb trees will be added in areas that have not had any. Disrupted grass will also be reseeded.

“I know there are lots of nerves, but we will walk with you through this process. If you are planning something like a wedding reception or a party, we want to know about it so we can work with you,” Sullivan said.

Image Information: THE S-CURVE approaching Immaculate Conception Catholic Church is one of the areas that will be reconstructed in the Church Street road project. The church, which is now part of St. John XXIII Parish, faces the largest special assessment for the work.  Photo by Mark Jaeger

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