Costly M46 water main project approved; Complete property reappraisal postponed

By Ralph Echtinaw

Sharply higher construction costs have driven the city’s M46 water main project from a projected cost of $1.25 million to $1.8 million.

That was the low bid from Crawford Contracting ($1,804,853). The other bidder was Isabella Corporation at $1,854,844.

Although the city has received half of the $763,000 in American Recovery Plan Act money it was awarded and another $500,000 from county ARPA funds, it will still have to sell bonds to completely fund the water main project, City Manager Kurt Giles told city council Tuesday.

Construction is expected to begin in June, providing Crawford Contracting can get the material in needs in time.

Property reappraisal postponed

Council members declined to approve spending $125,000 with Legacy Assessing Services to conduct a complete property reappraisal in the city. The item was on the agenda Tuesday, but no one would make a motion to approve it. Council members were concerned because the item wasn’t budgeted and because the cost of the water main project is so much higher than expected.

Assessor Kathy Roslund raved about Legacy Assessing in a letter to council: “They have a solid reputation for quality and thorough work. Legacy completed a reappraisal for the city of Alma in 2019 for the 2020 assessment roll, and the city is pleased with the work. They had a team of five people working on the project, and my staff and I were able to tag along on a couple commercial and industrial visits. They have been turning down reappraisal requests recently, but they are willing to do St. Louis.”

Council members are sympathetic to the need for a property reappraisal, as the last one was done about 40 years ago, and will revisit the proposal at a later date.

The benefit of a reappraisal would be greater property tax revenue for the city. But homeowners need not be alarmed because the increase in the taxable value of their property is capped at the rate of inflation or 5 percent, whichever is lower, for as long as they own the property.

However, a property’s taxable value is reset after the property is sold. So slowly but surely the city’s tax revenue would increase as houses are sold.

As Giles said. “There is a reasonable expectation that (a complete reappraisal) would pay some dividends in the future.”

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