Streetscape price tag: $9 a year

Published 10:45 am Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Albert Lea residents can expect to see a $9 per year tax increase for the next 10 years under the proposed Broadway Avenue infrastructure and streetscape project, according to a city official Monday night.

City Manager Chad Adams said that is the estimated tax increase for a $100,000 home. The cost would be $14 annually for the owner of a business property valued at $100,000.

The estimates were given during the Albert Lea City Council’s continued discussion on the project, which is slated for construction next year.

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Adams said under the proposal, taxpayers would be responsible for an $800,000 portion of the about $4 million overall project.

The remaining $3.2 million would come from state funds, special assessments to downtown building owners, and water and sewer funds, he said.

Adams said the city would bond for the $800,000 taxpayer portion, and residents would pay off the bonds over 10 years at about 2.25 percent interest.

If portions of the project are eliminated and the taxpayer portion is decreased to $650,000, the annual tax increase would be $7.50 a year for a $100,000 home and $11 a year for a $100,000 business property during the next 10 years.

The project calls for the reconstruction of the street, utilities and sidewalks of Broadway from Main Street to Fountain Street, along with other decorative elements such as street lighting, proposed plazas, bumpouts and a redevelopment of Fountain Lake Park.

The project is being proposed because of the age of the underground utilities and street. The existing sanitary sewer, watermain and storm sewer systems in Broadway are more than 80 years old and in need of replacement.

While most people agree on the need to replace the infrastructure, people have been more divided on the above-ground amenities.

The new plans call for dropped, rounded-off curves in the bumpouts to make snowplowing easier at intersections. The dropped curbs provide a more gradual increase to the sidewalk than a normal curb. The bumpouts are being proposed as an alternative to having stoplights and would save an estimated $200,000 per traffic signal.

The project also has plans for two pedestrian plazas, one at Water Street and one at William Street, though the council can still decide whether to include them — or to what extent.

A highlight of the project would be the redevelopment of Fountain Lake Park to include a grand staircase that doubles as an amphitheater at the end of Broadway.