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A Better Way To Finance Street Renovation?

March 10, 2015
Emmetsburg News

To the Editor:

A recent newspaper article reports that a hearing on the Lake Street renovation recently occurred. Please allow me to offer a perspective from past street projects.

A few years ago, a street by our home (Monroe) was redone at a cost to us of approximately $10,000. At the time of the renovation, we attended the hearing and subsequent city council meetings where this project was discussed. Knowing that the plans were already in progress and would proceed regardless of sentiments expressed, we went to the hearing with the intent of looking past our situation to future street repairs. It seemed to us to be counterproductive to the growth of our community to have such a punitive method of financing streets when we live in a community that is struggling to maintain, let alone grow. In a city council meeting, I volunteered to work with whomever the council would designate to be on a committee to investigate how other communities accomplish street renovation without burdening citizens with unreasonable assessments. I shared at that time that I knew a software installer who had worked with cities/counties across the state of Iowa, so she was well-versed on matters such as how financing of streets is done. Her words to me were, "Carol, nobody does it like Emmetsburg is doing it." She has worked approximately 2/3 of the cities/counties in the state of Iowa and, thorough her work, has knowledge of methods of financing street repairs. Obviously, there are other methods that have proven successful for other cities, which is why it seemed reasonable to me to look into other financing methodologies.

When our street was being done, it was brought up by an attendee at the public hearing that, in the past, citizens have had to pay for street repairs, and "it would not be fair" to make a change in the method of financing streets at that time. I believe the exact words were, "I had to pay, they should, too." I expressed at that time, and do so again in this letter, that continuing a questionable practice "because we've always done it this way" seems extremely shortsighted. We are not guaranteed the same tax deductions every year, our college age children are not guaranteed the same tuition rates year to year, and not looking at other methods because we've always done it this way seemed questionable - even self-destructive as a city - to me. If there is a better way to finance street renovations, certainly it is worthy of our consideration.

At the time of our street renovation, the mayor and my city council representative stated that they would contact me in the future to look into other methods of financing street renovations. To date, I have not been contacted. As we move our city into the future, it would behoove us to do whatever we can not to burden those who choose to live here by charging them these exorbitant street repair fees. Perhaps there are other methods that could relieve some of the burden that is currently carried by homeowners, and I would ask that we be forward-thinking and open-minded enough to explore potential alternatives.

(signed) Carol Dupic

Emmetsburg, IA



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