June 25, 2014
What Ward Five Residents Need to Know about Sidewalk Assessments and Repairs
There recently have been a significant number of complaints from Ward 5 residents about sidewalk assessments this year. The Sidewalk Inspections Office of Public Works inspects all city sidewalks on approximately a 10-year cycle.
Prior to this construction season, Sidewalk Inspections selected and inspected neighborhood areas for this year’s sidewalk repair work. Sidewalk inspectors examine every section of public sidewalk within that year’s defined neighborhood areas to determine which sections require replacement. Sidewalk repair or replacement happens if the sidewalk in question is broken, uneven, projecting and/or settled. Any condition that could cause someone to trip and fall or makes it difficult to traverse in a wheelchair is cause to repair or replace.
The decision to approve recommendations for work from Sidewalk Inspections for our Ward were made in the fall of 2013 so work could begin during this construction season. It is too late now to stop work.
“We need to do a better job of explaining how the city works to all of our residents,” said Ward 5 City Councilmember Blong Yang after his office held a townhall meeting on sidewalk assessments in the community. “The sidewalk assessment decisions happened before I took office, and there is no way to stop work going forward at this point. However, I think we could have calmed a lot of community concern with more and accurate information earlier in the process.”
In addition, there seems to be confusion about whether the City pays for tornado-damaged sidewalks. It does not. However, we did work out with the Sidewalk Office that the city will reimburse people whose sidewalk, curb, and/or gutter were damaged by uprooted boulevard trees.
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.
Property owners can pay an assessment in full when they receive the final bill. If they choose not to pay it in full, the amount of the assessment can be combined with property taxes. The exception is an assessment of $150 or less which is payable in full the first year. Assessments between $150 − $1500 can be paid over five years; assessments over $1500 can be paid over ten years.
“Just so everyone knows, I’m being assessed too,” said Yang.
If residents need more information about sidewalk assessments and repairs they can contact the Sidewalk Office at 612-673-2420.
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Last updated Jun 26, 2014