Emmetsburg City Council approved a Certificate of Completion for the Monroe Street Improvement Project at their meeting Monday night. This was coupled with a resolution to prepare the schedule of assessments.
Residents Rick and Carol Dupic addressed the council and members of the council discussed the project and assessments before action was taken.
In his remarks to the council, Rick Dupic said, "My knowledge of past projects, every initial assessment was usually higher and when they got the final assessment it was a percentage lower. We found out this was not going to happen this time. Whatever we got on our initial (assessment) is what we're going to get."
Dupic said he went door to door, visiting with resident in the Monroe project. "I was kind of shocked at how many elderly and disabled elderly, along with people that are on a fixed budget that we have in that neighborhood. To ask those people to pay the amount of what they have to pay for, it's going to be really difficult for them I'm just wishing that the council would look at other means in order to try to alleviate some of the assessments that the residents are going to be having to pay."
He added, "If we're going to make a commitment to stay in this community, I think we need something else to help this situation out with the assessments."
Carol Dupic also addressed the council. "If I were sitting in your chair I'd be thinking, yes and the budgets are tight at the Emmetsburg city, too, and we're trying to figure out how to do this and we need the new street. I don't want you to think that we don't understand that."
Carol told the council, "I don't believe that this is the best we can do in Emmetsburg. I believe there are other ways to do this."
She noted that discussing the assessment situation with people from other communities, nobody has assessments this high.
"I'm here to volunteer today that for the next group of people that this happens to, that we look at something else," Carol stated. "I'm here to say I'm not even going to be made about it. So when it happens to the next group, say let's get Carol Dupic on that committee because she wants to help us come up with a different way to do this and perhaps there is a way that would not put much of a burden on individuals."
She also noted, "As far as those people who say, I had to pay, so these people should have to pay. I say, that's short sighted and negative Does anything in our life stay the same? No. Everything is constantly changing."
In discussion later in the meeting, Councilman Steve Finer stated, "I know that it's probably already done for this time around, but I still think, in the future, these assessments are going to get nothing but higher and higher and I think the city does need to come up with a different way. Everybody uses the streets, maybe everybody should pay for the streets I think that would be a fair way to reduce the cost of the project, that maybe in the future the city pays for the street."
Councilman Brian Campbell clarified, "The initial assessments were based on the engineer's estimates of the cost of the project. The final assessments are based on the final actual and true costs of the project. So, if the engineer was way off base, those initial assessments would be reduced down to the actual costs, but if the engineer was pretty close in his estimates then there isn't much to reduce. But, they can't be higher than the initial estimates."
Council members discussed the percentage of the interest rate, whether it should be three or four percent, and the number of years over which the assessment can be paid, whether it be 10 or 15 years. Both of these topics will be discussed and decided at the March 12 meeting.
Councilman Corey Gram-owski added thoughts, "When there are questions about where funding money comes from, the city still has a lot of responsibility to different projects. We still have to help our city grow. We're very fortunate to have that facility out there, otherwise there are a lot of projects that would not happen -- fireworks, RIDES. The scope of the city is so big, it's not zeroing in on just one thing, one expense. A lot of people don't understand that."