City Administrator Angel Weasner said the proposed levy, totaling $2.932,460, was twice approved by the city’s finance committee and represents a 5 percent increase over the 2021 levy.
Projected revenues include $2,176,914 from the general levy, plus special levies totaling $755,546 to service four general obligation bonds.
Weasner said taxpayers may actually see a decrease in taxes due to an expected increase in tax capacity from the new apartments off Career Path.
Meanwhile, the budget projects general fund expenses totaling $5,512,554 next year. Weasner said the largest increase is due to the Fair Avenue street and utility project.
Council member Erika Randall moved to adopt the proposed levy and budget, setting a Truth in Taxation hearing for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 14 at city hall. The motion passed 4-0, absent council member Tom Conway.
City engineer Jon Olson gave an engineering report on the city’s 2022 street and utility project.
He said the project’s base bid will cover street and utility improvements on Fair Avenue from State Hwy. 34 to 8th Street, on 5th Street from Fair to Linquist Park and one block of Stevens Avenue south of 5th, plus widening and resurfacing Fair Avenue from 8th Street to Industrial Park Road.
Olson also identified alternate bid areas for street and utility improvements on 5th Street from Stevens to Pleasant Avenue, adjacent blocks of Court and Front Avenues and an alley off Front Avenue, as well as water main looping south of 11th Street.
He described the project’s scope as widening and resurfacing the streets, adding curb and gutter, extending stormwater, sewer and water mains to unserved properties, replacing mains that have reached the end of their service life and adding a sidewalk north of 8th Street on the east side of Fair Avenue.
Olson anticipated needing to acquire rights-of-way on the west side of Fair as well as temporary easements, and having to move some private utilities in the area.
He said there will be a public hearing about the project at the council’s Oct. 12 meeting and the design phase is going forward, with the council to approve plans and authorize bidding in February 2022, open bids and award contracts in March.
Olson expected construction to run from summer 2022 through spring 2023, with an assessment hearing in either spring or fall 2022.
He estimated costs for the project totaling $3.8 million, with a Local Road Improvement Program (LRIP) grant from the Minnesota Department of Transportation meeting $1.25 million of that amount.
Olson identified certain costs that could be assessed to adjacent property owners based on linear feet of frontage. He estimated that $33,600 could be assessed for 100 linear feet along the full reconstruction area of the project and $3,400 for 100 feet in the overlay/widening area.
However, he cautioned this might mean assessing some larger properties $50,000 to $300,000 – including the Heritage Living Center, Park Rapids Forest Products, St. Peter’s Catholic Church and the Shell Prairie Fair Association.
Olson hinted the city could use part of the LRIP grant to buy down the assessable share of the project. For example, if the city uses 50 percent of the grant to reduce the assessments, the price tag on 100 feet of frontage would go down to about $27,300 and $2,100, and the four largest parcels would be assessed $30,000 to $210,000.
The next step needed, Olson said, is for the council to approve the preliminary engineering report. No resolution to that effect was available Tuesday for the council to act on.
As a late addition to the agenda, interim city planner Ben Oleson presented a request for a conditional use permit (CUP) that the city’s planning commission had recommended for approval.
Micah Waalen requested the CUP for the property at 410 Pleasant Ave., known locally as the “old Enterprise building” and owned by Larry Sundsrud. Currently vacant, the property is zoned B-2 general business and has been used for commercial purposes in the past.
Waalen proposed converting the property to a mixed commercial and residential use, converting approximately 1,000 to 1,500 square feet on the east end of the building’s main level to a single-family dwelling while using the rest of the main level for a ceramic studio and workshop.
Oleson said the planning commission found that the proposed use would be compatible with the B-2 zoning with one condition, providing separate access to the residential space from outside the building.
Council member Liz Stone, who sits on the commission, said her only question was whether Waalen planned to advertise the workshop as a retail space and whether this would create traffic or parking issues. She said Waalen explained it would be more of a “maker’s space.”
Randall moved to approve the CUP, and the motion passed without dissent.