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Howard to levy special assessments for improvements near interchange

By Kevin Boneske
Staff Writer

HOWARD – The village board voted 7-2 Monday, Jan. 11, to authorize levying special assessments where improvements will be made near the planned County VV/State Highway 29 interchange.

The board’s motion authorizes levying special assessments against property on Milltown Road, Marley Street, Evergreen Avenue, Connection Road and a sanitary sewer right-of-way.

Trustees John Muraski and Craig McAllister cast dissenting votes.

Board members also backed an interest rate for paying the assessments of 2.5 percent, a half percent higher than the village’s borrowing rate.

Of more than $6.6 million in estimated project costs, the summary of the cost sharing presented by Director of Engineering Mike Kaster stated about $1.5 million, or 22.5 percent, will be charged to the fronting property owners.

With the interchange project starting this year, Kaster noted some of the improvements planned by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation includes:

• An urban section of boulevard roadway on Marley Street extending approximately 250 feet north of the intersection with Millwood Court.

• A roundabout constructed at the intersection of Marley Street and Evergreen Avenue.

• An urban section of boulevard roadway for Evergreen Avenue from Marley Street approximately 3,800 feet to Milltown Road.

• A rural section of roadway for Connection Road providing access to existing businesses.

• Stormwater management for the DOT-constructed roadways.

Assessment objections

McAllister objected to special assessments being charged for roadway improvements.

“On a normal DOT project, the project pays 100 percent of connectivity to where the project would have to connect to an existing roadway,” he said. “I understand that the funding sources are different, which changes the state’s mandate on connectivity, but I think that overall we should honor that practice.”

McAllister said all roadway assessments should be eliminated related to project connectivity from the future Evergreen Avenue to the existing Milltown Road and a portion of Marley Street.

“I think the roadway assessments are ludicrous, because we should be honoring the connectivity part of the state’s normal procedure for a DOT project,” he said. “And I think some of the assessments’ overall value – the dollar amount of the assessment – is way too high compared to the overall value of the property.”

McAllister said a parcel at 1552 Marley is now assessed for $145,800 and faces $22,070 in special assessments, 15 percent of the property’s current assessed value.

“How does this project increase the value of their property 15 percent, when in all actuality it’s a small, single-family ranch on a small lot, a corner lot?” he asked. “If anything, they’re going to lose value, because they’re losing property. They’re losing part of their yard to this project.”

McAllister said the village should limit special assessments to a percentage of a property’s value, “because I think 15 percent is getting pretty excessive.”

A motion introduced by McAllister to separate out the roadway charges from the rest of the assessment schedule was defeated on a 5-4 vote.

McAllister said he sought to separate out the roadway charges from the other special assessments “under the small chance that maybe the roadway assessments wouldn’t be passed at all.”

Of the approximately $2 million in estimated roadway costs, Kaster said slightly more than $355,000 would be assessed to the fronting property owners.

Had the roadway costs not been included in the assessments, Kaster said that would have differed from village policy for the way assessments were handled in the past.

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