Sidewalk Assessments vs. Taxes
Many residents ask why the City does not just pay for sidewalk replacement. The simple answer is: because it costs property owners less to be assessed than taxed.
If the City paid for replacement, it would have to tax all property owners a little bit for sidewalks every year. The tax would be based on an average, not actual cost. If the estimate turned out to be low, taxes might go up the next year. If the estimate turned out to be high, taxpayers would be paying too much and the extra money may be used for something other than sidewalks. And, smaller property owners may end up subsidizing larger property owners.
With assessment, the City charges each property owner the exact cost of replacement only when their property needs new sidewalks. Also, under assessment, the property owner is assessed less if the project comes in under budget, but not more if it doesn’t.
If the cost turns out higher than the original estimate, the City picks up the difference.
Note: This article is advisory. It should not be used as a legal reference on assessment or infrastructure issues.
Last updated Sep. 27, 2011