HJ/EDEnterprise Dispatch, Dec. 19, 2005

No assessments for Broadway Ave.

By Lynda Jensen

Improvements proposed for Broadway Avenue will not include separate assessments to property owners, according to the latest discussion by the Cokato City Council at its meeting last Monday.

The city’s portion of the project, which amounts to about $1.58 million, will be subsidized by about $300,000 in tax increment financing funds.

“We are doing creative financing,” commented city attorney Ron Batty describing the arrangement. The council did similar financial planning with the Highway 12 reconstruction project a number of years ago.

Other sources to fund the project include money that was set aside last year, $200,000 in the sewer fund, $100,000 in a revolving construction fund, and $100,000 in the general fund.

The city plans to bond for $1.1 to $1.2 million over 15 years for the project.

The county will be providing $556,000 toward it, above and beyond what the city is paying for, since it is a county road.

“I believe it’s a win/win situation,” commented Council Member Butch Amundsen.

Previously, at a work session, the council entertained ideas about financing the project with some assessments, as well as other options, such as a special type of referendum or raising utility rates. These ideas were met with unhappy feedback.

Although no special assessments will be made, the council decided to revise the existing assessment policy, which would apply to future projects.

Part of the reason that the council decided against assessments for Broadway Avenue is that nearly everyone in town uses this road.

Wright County Road 3 is a main thoroughfare through town, said Council Member Phil Haataja. He also observed that the city is a main land owner there.

Resident Tom Keaveny objected to the lack of assessments at Monday’s meeting. “I’d rather see you assess each business,” he said.

The project is set to include new sidewalks, streetlights to replacing aging lights and water and sewer lines; which the city decided to do upon the urging of its city engineer Marv Sorvala. Sorvala noted that the utilities there are candidates for future replacement and that doing this when the street was already opened up would be less costly.

In order to capture the TIF funding, the council approved administrative measures which renamed two districts into one.

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