The Cannon Falls city council unanimously approved a plan for a flat assessment of $15,000 each for ten properties south of Hwy. 19 between 71st and 72nd Avenue Ways (across from the school) to have city sewer and water services provided.
The $15,000 would include a waiver of any sewer and water connection charges (generally about $8,000), but individual property owners would have to pay for any plumbing needed to go from their homes to the city lines. The plan requires hook-up as soon as the services are ready. The plan includes no upgrade to paved roads or curb and storm sewer at this time. Property owners will be allowed to have the assessments attached to their property taxes and paid for over 15 years at 5 percent interest.
The properties were annexed into the city from Cannon Falls Township about ten years ago when a developer made plans to put housing in on a 40 acre farm parcel to the east of the existing homes. The developer said he would cover the main portion of costs of getting sewer and water to the area, making any charges to the existing homeowners affordable. He subsequently abandoned the project and the property has since been purchased by Glenn Mulvihill.
The city has a sewer and water improvement project planned for some nearby neighborhoods and figured this would be a good time to extend services into the annexed neighborhood. Concerns about the efficiency of some of the existing septic systems also prompted the city to move forward on this.
The city had originally proposed assessing the undeveloped Mulvihill property for seven lots. That would have totaled about $140,000 and spread out the costs for the ten property owners in the annexed neighborhood. But Mulvihill told the city if he were to develop he would use the existing plans, which calls for no home lots in the area that the city was proposing to assess. The city said it can only assess Mulvihill for a portion of the cost just for getting sewer and water lines under Hwy. 19.
Without the Mulvihill property assuming $140,000 of the estimated extension costs, the ten property owners would have been assessed about $32,000 each. The city had also considered allowing property owners another five to ten years to hook-up to the city services to ease the burden.
The city will carry part of the cost of the project and will look to recoup those costs when and if the vacant parcel is developed for homes. Annual debt levy to the city will increase an estimated $5,500.
Property owner Jim Smith said his taxes went up about $1,500 a year when his parcel was annexed and since that period he has received limited city services.
Council member LeRoy McCusker said the city tried to keep assessment costs below $150 a month to avoid undue burden. "In some ways, these people were victims because of the development situation," said McCusker.
Property owner Tim Anderson said estimated hook-up costs from his home to a stub are about $7,400. He asked the city to maybe consider a design that put the stubs closer to his home.