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Hallock Council to decide how to split street project costs

By Enterprise Staff
The preliminary cost for Hallock’s street project, slated to begin in 2024, is at $6.2 million.
During the regular meeting on Monday, Nov. 6, Hallock City Council heard an update from Jon Pauna, engineer with Moore Engineering. The firm helped the city create a capital improvements plan, which narrowed in on five sections of street throughout Hallock that are major problem areas.
“We’re pretty much done with the preliminary engineering report (PER) at this time, but wanted to share with you on estimated costs,” Pauna said. “We’re a little over total project costs of about $6.2 million. “The sheet you see here is based on 50 percent city and 50 percent assessed. We have talked about doing 60 percent assessment and 40 percent city.”
“Yeah, that’s the way it’s been since the beginning of time,” said Mayor Dave Treumer.
This is the city’s first major decision they need to make – how they plan to split the funding for this project. Pauna presented a preliminary plan based on a 50/50 split – the city’s taxpayers would pay for 50 percent of it, and the land and homeowners along those streets would pay for the rest through assessments.
“I’m just looking forward to when you start to set a new precedent because I’ve already been informed by several people it’s 60 percent taxpayer, 40 percent city,” Treumer said.
Pauna agreed it’s important to be consistent and the council will need to discuss that and make a decision on the split.
Pauna also presented preliminary numbers for assessments to properties along the sections of street to be redone.
“On Douglas Avenue, there’s a lot of odd shaped lots because the road’s curvy,” he said. “So the front is very wide and the back’s real narrow, and vice versa, depending on where you’re at on the curve. I take the front footage, the back footage and divide it by two. You shouldn’t get real lucky just because you have a short sliver compared to your neighbor.”
Preliminary numbers show one lot will be assessed at $306,000, which is proposed to be over a 20-year period.
The project includes street, sewer and utilities to be reconstructed. Treumer asked whether it can be changed to the city being solely responsible for the utilities, so if there’s an issue that needs fixing, it isn’t reassessed to the property owners. Pauna said that’s the council’s decision.
Once the council makes the decision, the next steps are clear. Moore Engineering will complete the PER, present it to the council who will then pass a resolution accepting the PER.
At that point, they will set a date for the first public improvement hearing. Those affected by assessments will specifically be notified and there will be a posting for the meeting.
After that hearing, the council will open a council meeting and decide whether they will order the improvement and proceed.
Once the project is finalized for design, it’ll be put out for bids.
“Then we’d have real numbers,” Pauna said. “Then at that point, we could have our assessment hearing, where we notify the same residents and give them real numbers. Hopefully they are reasonably close to what we told them the first time, but until we have bids, we don’t know.”
Residents will have a right to formal protest or file a petition against the project.
“The costs aren’t going to drop,” Pauna said. “That’s a fact. So it’s really a matter of how much the city wants to take on as a tax burden, potentially, paid through everybody’s property taxes, or how much to assess the property owners who are directly benefiting.”
The council did not make a decision on this issue, but will likely bring it to the Monday, Dec. 4 meeting.
In other business, the council:
• Closed the meeting to confer with their attorney regarding the airport hangar, under Minnesota Statute 13D.05, subd. 3(b). This allows for attorney-client privilege.
• Accepted the resignation of Firefighter Scot Olson from the Hallock Fire Department.
• Approved new fire department member Caleb Novak.
• Approved a building permit for Dana and Mary Olson to construct a deck.
• Approved two building permits for Bakken Construction for building two new houses on lots 8 and 9 in the Elementary Hill Addition.
The next meeting is set for Monday, Dec. 4, which is also the Truth-in-Taxation meeting.

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