Why is a 3.5% Increase Not Enough??

March 24, 2013 at 2:59 am Leave a comment

By Andrew Richter

Well, something interesting happened at the March 19 Crystal City Council meeting; the council decided that a 3.5 % increase for the phase 13 reconstruction plan (Becker Park area) wasn’t enough; the council voted to increase the special assessment 7.5% instead.

Here’s the scoop;

The bid to do the project came in at $242,000 less than the estimate. The feasibility study for phase 12 included a 7.5% increase over the Phase 12 price (which curiously went up 0% from Phase 11). Once option that city engineer Tom Mathisen gave to the council was to do a 3.5% increase, which would still cover the cost of the special assessment by using up $147,000 of the savings from the bid being under the estimate.

In other words, residents in Phase 13 would still see a 3.5% increase in their special assessment from the 2012 price BUT the city would still save $95,000 from the estimate. Mr. Mathisen recommended the 3.5% increase.

Does that not sound reasonable?

Well, this created a heated city council debate;

Julie Deshler went first;

Deshler: “I’d rather have it lower, 7.5 sounds like a lot, it’s a big bump nobody’s wages went up that much.”

Will that’s certainly true! But Mark Hoffman disagreed and wanted to tax more

Hoffman: “I’m not worried about keeping the assessment as written, $242,000 is not a big buffer if something goes wrong.”

Funny, $242,000 sounds like a lot of money to me…..but then again this is government here. Then Hoffman said something strange;

Hoffman; “As soon as four more phases are over we’re starting again.”

Start over??? Julie Deshler wasted no time questioning that;

Deshler: (pointing to Mathisen) You keep telling us these are 50 years roads, so why would we be starting all over again?”

Apparently there IS another little project to do after the special assessments…..I’m not sure what that is but I’ll look into it at a later date

Mayor Jim Adams spoke next;

Adams: At the 3.5 level we still have $95,000 that we are over assessing and that does leave us…..

Anne Norris then interrupted saying “We are not over assessing, we just got great bids, we are not over assessing, that sends a bad message.”

She then started laughing…..I don’t get the joke.

After some back and forth between Adams and Hoffman, John Budziszewski asked if the 7.5% increase has been a standard increase throughout the phase projects.

Actually, I’ve found out that there in no standard. Sometimes the jump is 0%, sometimes the jump has been higher that 7.5%…..it seems to depend on costs, the economy, and the length of time between projects (we have taken as many as three years off before.)

Joe Selton then tried to ask whether it would mean a huge jump for Phase 14.

Now here’s where it gets tricky…….these “projections” of future costs are just that….numbers. They are best guesses. The city has been wrong a million times. Mathisen explained that if we looked a previous estimates they have born out the way they were projected.

Casey Peak then made a motion to assess the 3.5% increase. Julie Deshler gave it a second.

Unfortunately, for Phase 13 taxpayers his motion failed 3-4;

Voting yes; Adams, Peak, Deshler

Voting no; Libby, Hoffman, Selton,  Budziszewski

The motion was then passed at the 7.5% rate by the same vote in the opposite way. Here are the members who voted to over assess citizens in Phase 13 (Ward 3 Crystal) to cover some “unexpected expenses” or phantom debt:”

Laura Libby

Mark Hoffman

Joe Selton

John Budziszewski

I’m not surprised at all by Hoffman or Selton’s vote, but I’m quite disappointed in Libby and Budziszeski. While I like and respect Laura and agree with her sometimes, I have to remember that I’m just going to disagree with her on some issues. She is after all a member of the Green Party, and while I respect her honesty about it, it’s fair to say that the Green Party mindset isn’t exactly my cup of tea. I’m really disappointed in Budziszeski, considering he voted against phase 11 and phase 12 and now he votes to over assess phase 13? That makes no sense.

Well Phase 13 residents, you have one more chance to speak on this issue; The April 16 city council meeting! Go there and let them know what you think of being over assessed!

Entry filed under: City Government, Community, Crystal, Transportation.

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