Special Assessment Policy

CITY OF PARK RAPIDS

SPECIAL ASSESSMENT POLICY

Adopted June 28, 2011

As per Resolution #2011-100

 

 

 

1.0          PURPOSE

               

The purpose of this Special Assessment Policy is to set forth the policies and procedures in accordance with Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 429 for the determination of special benefit and the assessment of cost of the various public improvements which are constructed and installed by the City of Park Rapids pursuant to law, charter, or order of the City Council.  These policies shall serve as a guide for this and future City Councils, for administrative personnel, and as a source of information for all persons concerned with such matters.  It is the intent and purpose of these policies to provide for consistent, uniform, fair and equitable treatment, insofar as is practical and possible, of all property owners in regard to the assessment of costs for special benefits to property for the various improvements of streets and utilities within the City of Park Rapids.

 

 

2.0          GENERAL STATEMENT OF POLICIES

 

The City Council of the City of Park Rapids hereby declares that these assessment policies contained herein are the policies that the City of Park Rapids is dedicated to follow as nearly as possible and practical, and that all improvement costs shall, whenever possible, be assessed against properties receiving special benefit from the improvement as set forth in these policy statements.

 

 

3.0          SCOPE AND LIMITS

 

These assessment policies are designed to serve as a guide for the City Council in allocating special benefits to properties for the purpose of defraying the cost of installing public facilities.

 

3.1          The Council reserves the right to vary from these policies if the policies act to create obvious inequities, or where the assignment of special benefit to a particular property is difficult because of an extreme and unusual situation, or if such variance is deemed to be in the best interests of the City of Park Rapids.

 

3.2          The Council may deviate from these policies if there is a written developer’s agreement between the developer and the City that specifies how public improvements are to be paid and provided that the developer meets all the requirements of the subdivision ordinances of the City. The terms and conditions of the developer’s agreement shall be determined by the City Council.

 

3.3          Any project in which special benefits land outside the corporate limits shall be subject to the same assessment procedure as outlined herein. The special benefit and cost accruing to the land outside the City limits shall be included in the original public hearing.  The City shall assume the temporary responsibility for payment of the allocable cost.  The City shall maintain a register on that property outside the City limits, and when the property is annexed, the City shall file and certify the assessment to the County Auditor for collection.  In lieu of such assessments, the City, at its discretion, may require a cash payment for the original principal at the time a request for connection to the City’s system is made.  No physical connection to the City’s sanitary sewer or watermain trunk line system will be permitted until a utility agreement, including satisfaction of costs or assessments, is executed.

 

 

4.0          DEFINITIONS

               

Definitions adopted in Minn. Stat. § 429.011 shall be used under this chapter and, in addition, the following words, terms and phrases, when used in this chapter, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:

 

Alleys.   A public or private right-of-way primarily designed to serve as secondary access to the side or rear of those properties whose principal frontage is on a street.

 

                Arterial Street.  An arterial street is a main highway, which gathers traffic from collector and residential streets in commercial and residential areas.

 

                Collector Street.  A collector street gathers residential traffic and funnels it onto arterial streets.

 

Curb & Gutter.  An improved facility located in the public right-of-way as part of the street, typically constructed of concrete, for drainage and traffic control purposes.

 

Deferred Assessment.  The City Council may elect to choose not to collect payment of an assessment, until a specified time or event as provided in law.

 

Governing Body.  “Governing Body” means the City Council of the City of Park Rapids, Minnesota, having general legislative powers.

 

Improvement.   “Improvement” means any type of improvement made under authority granted by Minn. Stat. Sec. 429.021.

 

Lateral Line.   “See service line”.

 

Municipality.  “Municipality” means the City of Park Rapids.

 

Residential Street.   A residential street is a local street that feeds into a collector street and can be either urban or rural. See “urban” or “rural”.

 

Service Line.   The pipe that runs from the inside of the house to the main, for both water and sewer.

 

Sewer Systems.   “Sewer Systems” means sewage treatment works, disposal systems, collection systems, and other facilities for disposing of sewage, industrial waste or other wastes.

 

Sewer System Improvements.   Sewer System Improvements shall include acquisition, development, construction, reconstruction, extension and maintenance of sanitary sewer systems, including outlets, holding areas and ponds, treatmentplants, pumps, lift stations, service connections, and other appurtenances of a sewer system.

 

Special Assessment.   Special assessments are a charge imposed on selected properties for a particular improvement or service that provides a special benefit to the owners of the selected properties.   

 

Storm Sewer Systems.  “Storm Sewer Systems” means mains, holding areas and ponds, and other appurtenances and related facilities for the collection and disposal of storm water.  All storm sewer pumping stations, culverts, ditches, street grading, and any other improvement that facilities the drainage. 

 

Storm Sewer System Improvements.  Storm Sewer System Improvements shall include acquisition, development, construction, reconstruction, extension and maintenance of storm sewer systems, including outlets, holding areas, and other appurtenances of a storm sewer system.

 

Streets, Alleys and Sidewalk Improvements.   Acquisition, opening, widening of any street or alley and improvement of streets, alleys and sidewalks by constructing, reconstructing and maintaining sidewalks, pavements, gutters, curbs, and vehicle parking strips of any material or by grading, graveling, oiling, or otherwise improving them.

 

Street Lights.   An improved facility located in the public right of way, typically a unit consisting of light fixtures, lamps, standards and wiring. Installed for illumination of the street, sidewalk and adjacent structures.  Street lights may be decorative in nature.

 

Waterworks Systems.   “Waterworks Systems” means water mains, valves, hydrants, service connections, wells, pumps, reservoirs, tanks, treatment plants and other appurtenances of a waterworks system. 

 

 

5.0          SERVICE LIFE OF IMPROVEMENTS:

 

The City shall design public improvements to last for a definite period as stated in this section, or, if different, shall be as stated in the resolution ordering the improvement.

 

5.1          Surface Improvements:

 

                                a.     Grading and base construction – 20 years

                                b.     Sidewalks – 20 years 

                                c.     Concrete curb or curb and gutter – 20 years

d.     Alleys, residential, collector, or arterial street pavement (bituminous or Portland cement concrete) – 20 years

                                e.     Bituminous overlay – 10 years

                                f.     Aggregate surface streets – 10 years

                                g.     Street Lighting: – 15 years

                                               

5.2          Subsurface Improvements:

 

                                a.     Watermains – 40 years

                                b.     Sanitary sewers – 40 years

                                c.     Sewer and water service – 40 years

                                d.     Storm sewers – 40 years

 

When any existing improvement is ordered to be renewed or replaced, before the life expectancy of the improvement has expired as defined above, the costs shall be prorated based on the life of which the improvement served.

 

 

6.0          ELIGIBLE COST FOR ASSESSMENT PROCEEDINGS

 

                Where an improvement is constructed, which is of special benefit to properties within the project area, it is the intent of the City Council that special assessments be levied against the properties receiving the special benefit within that area to the extent of the special benefit. 

               

In the event that city staff has questions as to whether or not the proposed assessments meet the special benefits to the properties in question, the City Council may, at its discretion, order benefit appraisals as deemed necessary to support the proposed assessments. 

 

The City Council shall determine the total cost of the improvement in accordance with Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 429 and as stated below: 


 

a.             the final construction costs;

 

b.             the cost of labor and materials furnished by the City if not contained in contract costs; 

 

c.             the cost of engineering, legal, fiscal, and administrative services provided by City staff or other parties;

 

d.             the cost of acquiring property or right-of-way required by the improvement;

 

e.             interest costs incurred by the City between the time money is borrowed for the improvement and special assessments are levied for collection; and

 

f.             any other costs which in the opinion of the City Council should be included as part of the total project cost.

 

The term of assessments shall be determined by the Council for each separate project. The maximum term of any assessment shall be 20 years. The Council shall establish an interest rate to be paid on unpaid balances as may be necessary to cover bond administration costs over the life of the bond, and principal and interest payments.

 

 

7.0          METHODS OF ASSESSMENT

 

There are four methods of assessment:  adjusted front foot, area, per lot, and per each.  The feasibility report or Preliminary Engineering Report will recommend one or a combination of these methods for each project or improvement, based upon which method would best reflect the special benefit received for the area to be assessed.

 

The following methods of assessment, as described and defined below, are hereby established as methods of assessment in the City.

 

7.1          Adjusted Front Footage Method of Assessment

 

The cost per adjusted front foot method of assessment shall be based on the quotient of the “assessable cost” divided by the total assessable frontage receiving special benefit from the improvement.  For the purpose of determining the “assessable frontage,” all properties, including governmental agencies, shall have their frontages included in such calculation.

 

The actual physical dimensions of a parcel abutting an improvement (i.e., street, sewer, water, etc.) shall not be construed as the frontage utilized to calculate the assessment for a particular parcel.  Rather, an “adjusted front footage” will be determined.  The purpose of this method is to equalize assessment calculations for lots of similar size.  Individual parcels by their very nature differ considerably in shape and area.  The following procedures will apply when calculating adjusted front footage.  The selection of the appropriate procedure will be determined by the specified configuration of the parcel.  All measurements will be scaled from available plat and county maps.

 

a.             Interior rectangular lots.  The “frontage” or address side shall be equal to the dimensions of the side of the lot abutting the improvements. (Refer to Exhibit A)

 

b.             Rectangular corner lots.  The “frontage” shall be equal to the dimension of the smaller of the two sides of the lot abutting the improvement, plus one-half of the dimensions of the larger of said two sides.  Provided, however, that where the “long side” of a corner lot exceeds 150 feet for lots zoned residential and 200 feet for lots zoned commercial, industrial, or multi-family, the entire excess over 150 feet for residential or 200 feet for commercial, industrial, or multi-family shall be regarded as frontage (Refer to Exhibit B).  Street lighting, sanitary sewer and watermain “frontage” shall be equal to the shorter of the two sides of the lot abutting the streets, whether the improvement is made on the street abutting the short side of the lot, the street abutting the long side of the lot, or on both sides.

 

c.             Interior irregularly shaped lots.  The “frontage” shall be equal to the average width of the lot. (Refer to Exhibit C)

 

d.             Irregularly shaped corner lots.  The “frontage” shall be equal to the average width of the lot, plus one-half of the average length of the lot.  Provided, however, that where the average length of the lot exceeds 150 feet for lots zoned residential or 200 feet for lots zoned commercial, industrial, or multi-family, the entire excess over 150 feet for residential or 200 feet for commercial, industrial, or multi-family shall be regarded as frontage (Refer to Exhibit D).  Street lighting, sanitary sewer and watermain “frontage” shall be equal to the average width of the lot regardless of whether the improvement is abutting the short side of the lot, the long side of the lot, or both sides.

 

e.             Interior lots less than 150 feet (zoned residential) or 200 feet (zoned commercial, industrial, or multi-family) in depth which abut two parallel streets.  The “frontage” for a given type of surface improvement shall be calculated on only one side of the lot.

 

f.             Corner lots less than 150 feet (zoned residential) or 200 feet (zoned commercial, industrial, or multi-family) in depth which abut three streets.  The “frontage” for a given type of surface improvement shall be calculated on the same basis as if such lot was a corner lot abutting the improvement on two sides only.

 

g.             Interior lots greater than 150 feet (zoned residential) or 200 feet (zoned commercial, industrial, or multi-family) in depth which abuts two parallel streets.  The “frontage” for a surface improvement shall be calculated independently for each frontage, unless City regulations prohibit the use of the lot for anything but a single family residence, in which case the average width is the total “frontage”.

 

h.             Large parcels.  For large platted or unplatted lots, only the abutting 150 feet in depth shall be assessable for direct special benefit from the installation of watermain and/or sanitary sewer.

 

7.2          Area Method of Assessment

 

The area method of assessment shall be based on the number of square feet or acres within the boundaries of the appropriate property lines of the areas receiving special benefit from the project.  The assessment rate (i.e., cost per square foot) shall be calculated by dividing the total assessable cost by the total assessable area. On large lots, the City Engineer may determine that only a portion of the lot(s) receives the special benefit and my select a lot depth for the calculations equal to the special benefit received.

 

All properties included in the area receiving special benefit, including other governmental areas, churches, etc., shall be assessable.  The following items may not be included in area calculations:  public right-of-­way, and natural waterways, swamps and lakes and other wetlands designated by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources or the City.  The City Engineer will make a recommendation on the boundaries or parameters of the area receiving special benefit.


 

7.3          Per Lot Method of Assessment

 

The per lot method of assessment shall be based on equal assessment of all lots within the area receiving special benefit.  The “assessment per lot” shall be the quotient of the “assessable cost” divided by the total assessable lots or parcels receiving special benefit from the improvement.  For the purpose of determining the “lots” or “parcels” all parcels, including governmental agencies, shall be included in such calculations.

 

7.4          Per Each Method of Assessment

 

The “per each” method of assessment shall be utilized when a property receives the sole special benefit of the improvement (example: a water service).

 

 

8.0          STANDARDS FOR PUBLIC IMPROVEMENT PROJECTS

 

The following standards are hereby established by the City to provide a uniform guide for improvements within the City.

 

8.1          Surface Improvements

 

a.             Surface improvements shall normally include all improvements visible on or above the ground within the right-of-way, and include, but are not limited to trees, sidewalks, signing; street and accessory improvements such as parking lots, parks and playgrounds.

 

b.             Prior to construction or completion of surface improvements, all utilities and utility service lines (including sanitary sewers, storm sewers, and water lines) shall be installed to all planned service locations such as residences or buildings.

 

                                c.             Street improvement standards are defined below:

 

1)            Arterial streets.  In commercial and residential areas shall be of 9 ton design, urban, and a minimum width of 44 feet as measured from faces of curbs.  Sidewalks shall be provided in accordance with the City’s sidewalk plan.

 

2)            Collector streets.  In commercial or industrial areas shall be 9 ton, urban, and have a minimum width of 44 feet, measured between faces of curbs. In residential areas must be 7 ton design, urban, and have a minimum width of 40 feet as measured from faces of curbs. Sidewalks shall be provided on all collector streets in accordance with the City’s sidewalk plan.

 

3)            Residential streets.  Shall be of 5 ton design, urban, and shall be a minimum of 36 feet in width as measured from faces of curbs.  Sidewalks shall be provided on all residential streets in accordance with the City’s sidewalk plan.

 

                4)            Alleys.  In residential areas shall be of 5 ton design.  In commercial or industrial service areas, alleys shall be constructed to a 7 ton design. 

 

                5)            Rural streets.  In a residential area shall be 5 ton design and a width of 30 feet.

 

                                d.             Sidewalks shall be of concrete construction and shall be six feet (6’) in width.


 

8.2          Sub-Surface Improvements            

 

a.                   Subsurface improvements shall normally include such items as water distribution, sanitary sewer and storm sewer lines.

 

b.                   Sub-surface improvements shall be made to serve current and projected land use.  All installations shall conform to applicable standards established by local, state and/or federal agencies of competent jurisdiction.  All installations shall also comply, to the maximum extent feasible, with nationally recognized standards.

 

 

9.0          ASSESSMENT COMPUTATIONS.

 

The following is the typical city assessment for various specified improvements.

 

9.1                Street Improvements

 

Street improvements shall be assessed based on the adjusted front footage method.  Other methods may be utilized if situations warrant.  The assessable portion of the total project cost shall be determined as follows:

 

a.                   New Constructions.  100 percent of the cost to construct new streets in previously unserved areas in accordance with the standards set forth in Section 8.1 shall be assessed to the properties abutting the improvement which receive special benefit therefrom. 

 

b.                   Reconstruction and Overlays.  60 percent of the cost for street reconstructions and overlays in accordance with the standards set forth in Section 8.1 shall be assessed, to the properties abutting the improvement which receive special benefit therefrom. 

 

c.                    Gravel Streets.  60 percent of the cost for surfacing unpaved streets and installing curb and gutter in accordance with the standards set forth in Section 8.1 shall be assessed to the properties abutting the improvement which receive special benefit therefrom.

 

d.                   Seal Coats.   No portion of the cost of applying seal coats  shall be assessed.

 

e.                    Alleys.  60 percent of the cost to either upgrade existing gravel alleys by adding pavement or reconstructing existing paved alleys in accordance with the standards set forth in Section 8.1 shall be assessed to all lots abutting on the alley in the block being improved.  

 

Costs incurred in installing oversized infrastructure in excess of the standard improvements as defined in Section 8.1 shall not be specially assessed.

 

9.2          Sidewalks and Trails

 

                Sidewalks shall be assessed on the adjusted front footage method to all properties receiving special benefit from the project.  The assessable portion of the total project cost shall be determined as follows:

 

a.       New Development.  100 percent of the cost to install new sidewalks in newly developed areas shall be assessed to the properties abutting the improvement.

 

b.       New Sidewalk in Developed Areas or Sidewalk Reconstruction.  50 percent of the cost of the sidewalks shall be assessed to the properties abutting the improvement. 

 

9.3          Storm Sewer Improvements

 

Storm sewer improvements include all storm sewer piping, storm sewer pumping stations, culverts, ditches, stormwater treatment facilities, and any other improvement, which will facilitate the drainage.  The costs of such improvements shall be assessed pursuant to the area method of assessment (square foot or acres), but in certain situations the per lot method or adjusted front method may be utilized at the City Council’s discretion.  90 percent of the cost to install or replace storm sewers shall be assessed to the properties receiving special benefit from the project.

 

9.4                Sanitary Sewer Improvements

 

a.                   Main lines. 100 percent of the cost to install sanitary sewer infrastructure, including all mains, manholes and other necessary structures, to areas previously without service or to  replace existing infrastructure shall be assessed  to properties abutting the improvement which receive special benefit therefrom. Sanitary sewer costs shall generally be assessed on an adjusted front footage basis, but in certain situations the per lot method may be utilized at the City Council’s discretion.

 

b.             Oversized or trunkline.  In the event oversized mains or trunk lines (larger than 8”) in an area are necessary to provide adequate service and capacity for areas beyond the specific area in question, then  the portion of the total project cost attributable to the oversized infrastructure  shall not be assessed.  This policy, however, shall not prevent the City from assessing properties that receive special benefit from such oversized infrastructure or from creating special sanitary sewer trunk line assessment districts if deemed advisable and proper in any particular situation.

 

c.             Service laterals.  100 percent of the cost to install or replace sanitary sewer service laterals or lines shall be assessed to the properties receiving special benefit therefrom on a per each basis.

 

d.             Pumping Stations and Forcemain.  100 percent of the cost to install sanitary sewer pumping stations and forcemains required for new development shall be assessed on a square foot or  per lot basis to all properties within the service area that receive special benefit therefrom.  Costs incurred in rehabilitating or replacing sanitary sewer pumping stations  shall not be assessed.

 

9.5                Watermain Assessments

 

a.             Main lines. 100 percent of the cost to install watermains, including hydrants, valves, fittings and appurtenances, to areas previously without service or to replace existing infrastructure shall be assessed  to properties receiving a special benefit therefrom on an adjusted front footage basis or, in certain situations at the City Council’s discretion, pursuant to the per lot method.

 

b.             Oversized or looping.  In the event oversized mains or trunk lines (larger than 6”) in an area are necessary to provide adequate service and capacity for areas beyond the specific area in question, then  the portion of the total project cost attributable to the oversized infrastructure  shall not be assessed.  This policy, however, shall not prevent the City from assessing properties that receive special benefit from such oversized infrastructure to the extent of the special benefit.  The City shall loop all dead end watermains when the option is available, and the costs for looping shall generally not be assessed.

 

c.             Service laterals.  100 percent of the costs to install or replace water sewer service laterals or lines shall be assessed to the properties receiving special benefit therefrom on a per each basis.

9.6                Boulevard Trees

 

a.                   Boulevard trees installed as part of new street constructions or in reconstructing existing streets shall be included as part of the overall street improvement project costs included in the assessment calculations.

 

9.7                Street Lights

 

a.                   All costs for new streetlights installed as part of constructing new streets or relocated as part of a street reconstruction project are included in the overall lighting improvement project costs and shall be assessed to properties receiving special benefit  therefrom  pursuant to the adjusted front foot method.

 

 

END ASSESSMENT POLICY