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Saturday, May 5, 2018

Tax Payers of Grant Concerned About How City Plans to Bill Them for Big Road Project

$4 Million Pavement Construction Recommended For Grant:
The City’s Past Road Management Ineffective

WSB, the city’s engineering firm published its report in June 2016 and is posted on the city’s website,  The construction cost estimates do not include normal engineering, legal and
WCW stock photo
administrative costs which typically add 20-30 percent to work projects.

The report points out that the program only addresses pavement that is now in need of repair.  It states that 68% of Grant’s pavement is in good to excellent condition.  It goes on to indicate if maintenance is not upgraded on those roads they will progressively fall into the fair to poor category and compound the current repair estimates.

Road conditions in Grant have been an issue with residents and the city council for many years.  Under the city’s current philosophy stated in its Resolutions 2005-122 and 2010-11, ‘the cost associated with road improvements shall be assessed 100% to the benefited properties’.  It, also, states that residents must petition the city council to do the work and agree to finance or pay in advance before a project will commence.

Less than a handful of projects have been done under this policy. Most cities finance road repair through levies that are income deductible providing taxpayers with some relief.  Others share costs where residents typically are assessed a non-deductible 30% of road repairs.

Grant has a 50/50 mix of asphalt versus gravel roads in addition to county and state highways that traverse the city.  Property owners along gravel, county and state highways voice opposition to tax increases to maintain asphalt roads. But the ratio will change because the city requires new housing developments to have hard surface roads.

The city with less than 5000 population does not qualify for enough state aid to augment its philosophy and low road budget. Growth in Grant has been slowed by its intentional low density housing planning. But, the city’s population may increase not to its own doing.

There are those that fear that the Met Council will look to Grant to add housing as it did in Lake Elmo. Of course, that would include municipal sewer and water. No doubt, property taxes would escalate to bear the cost of these systems.

On the other hand, Mahtomedi on Grant’s western border has proposed annexing portions of the city’s land including School District 832’s high, middle and elementary school property along 75th Street. The proposal details housing and business development plans for the area. If successful, Grant will lose population and tax revenue.

The city council is bitterly divided on how to best deal with these and other issues as evidenced by litigation between its members.  Some residents feel that current city council leadership is not capable of dealing with issues. Others believe they may be tacitly supporting growth.

Sound like Lake Elmo?

-Larry Lanoux