Thorny issue slows paving

Council debates how to assess property owners

Posted: Friday, January 10, 2003

The Soldotna City Council is taking time to pave the flowers.

The council postponed for two weeks a finding of public necessity resolution for paving the "flower streets" -- Anthurium Street, Amaryllis Street, Trollius Avenue, Lily Drive and Rose Garland Road. The finding is necessary for city employees to begin preliminary planning and for the city to set another public hearing on the matter.

At issue for the council is how much each property owner should be assessed for the paving. The city's plan is to create a Special Assessment District in the neighborhood where the streets will be paved, then split the cost 50-50 between the city and property owners. However, the council was unsure Wednesday about how to fairly assess each individual property owner.

Neighborhood residents last year called on the city to help pave the streets by submitting a petition signed by more than 70 percent of affected property owners. Originally, the city's plan was to assess property owners on a per lot basis. Under that method of assessment, each property owner would pay roughly $3,900 over the course of a 10-year period.

However, several members of the council said that a per lot assessment might not be equitable, since some lots are much larger than others.

Council member Sharon Moock submitted a plan to the council that attempted to solve the disparity between lot sizes by assessing property on a combination per lot, square foot method. Under Moock's plan, for each 10 percent over or under the average lot size, property owners would be either credited or charged 1 percent of the total cost.

Moock's plan also included a provision that property owners could only pay 10 percent -- about $400 -- above or below the average assessment.

Moock said she didn't want smaller property owners to feel like they were bearing more than their share for the paving.

"I'm trying to find an equitable way to help folks out of a situation," Moock said.

Council member Jane Stein argued that a per lot assessment would be best, since all residents would benefit from the street paving.

"We've gone through an awful lot of trouble to be fair," Stein said. "Everyone is driving the same length of road."

Council member Jim Stogsdill said he did believe larger-property owners should foot a little bit more of the bill for the paving.

"If I have the greater amount of frontage, I should pay a little bit more, I believe," Stogsdill said.

Moock, for her part, said she would continue to push for her combination per lot, square foot plan.

"I guess I'm going to stick with my little scheme here," Moock said.

City Manager Tom Boedeker advised the council that Moock's plan made sense, but he would have to check on the legality of such an assessment.

"Mrs. Moock's suggestion is not complicated to figure out," Boedeker said.

"It does have some merit. I just don't know if technically we'll have a problem."

In the end, the council decided it would be best to wait until the next meeting to decide on the issue. Once an assessment method can be worked out, the council will likely pass a finding of public necessity, allowing the city to move forward with plans to pave the streets.

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