photo by Kim David/Townsquare Media

Rochester, MN (KROC AM News) - The Rochester City Council was briefed on a proposal Monday that would establish a new fee to cover the cost of the city’s sidewalk program.

Public Works Director Richard Freese is asking the council to consider adopting a Sidewalk Improvement District  or SID ordinance.

Under the proposal presented at Monday's meeting, the program would collect fees from every property owner. Freese is recommending fees that would generate $3.6 million per year - ten times the amount the city currently spends on its sidewalk program.

About 40 percent of the money would be spent on repairing sidewalks. Under the current policy, property owners pay that cost. For some, the cost can be a “sticker shocker” when they receive the bill.The program would also spend 36 percent of the collections on ADA projects.  

Under the scenario presented to the council Monday, residential property owners would pay $72 per year while the annual cost to multi-family properties would be $216.  Commercial properties would be assessed $432 per year.

State law restricts SID programs to 5 years but they can be renewed. Freese is recommending the council move forward with a plan that would use two 5 year programs. He also recommends adopting the ordinance this year so the program can begin next year.

The council may make that decision at its May 23 committee meeting after more discussion. If the council decides to adopt the proposed program, it will then have to decide how much each property owner is assessed.

Council President Randy Staver expressed concern about charging property owners another fee to fund the program. Freese told him the alternative would be higher property taxes.