Richardton is going to rehab, street rehab, that is.
City officials confirmed its streets are in significant need of rehabilitation, and are moving forward on a proposal to rehabilitate all city streets.
The project requires a “special assessment district” to fund the $7 million dollars needed for the complete overhaul of Richardton’s old city streets — many of which have not had a complete rehabilitation in more than three decades.
A special assessment district is an additional tax levied on a select area of private and government owned property to fund public improvements projects aimed at enhancing the value of the property or addressing health, safety or other legitimate concerns.
As part of the special assessment, city commissioners have detailed the impacts or need of road repairs through a resolution of necessity, which will be made available to the public in print and read aloud during a city commission meeting. Following the resolution those residing in the special assessment district will have the opportunity to support or contest the proposed project in person at the commission meeting, or in writing to the city of Richardton. If the threshold for support does not meet the legal requirements, the proposal will fail.
If approved, the cost of the project will be distributed throughout the selected special assessment district.
According to city attorney Olivia Krebs, the special assessment district roughly consists of the entire city of Richardton.
“The plan that is going to be discussed by the Richardton City Commission on February 8, 2021 involves a special assessment district that roughly includes the entire city of Richardton, except the properties on E Street and Raider Road, which have already been repaired,” Krebs detailed in an interview with The Press.
The cost of replacing nearly all of Richardton’s streets is estimated at $7,000,000 which will be covered via a loan taken by the entity of Richardton. However, Commission President Tom Roll assures residents that the city will not take out more money than needed.
According to the documents provided by the city of Richardton, the cost of the repairs will be divided with 40% paid by the city and 60% by those within the special assessment district.
Commissioner Mark Aman addressed the matter saying that residents within the district will have increased property taxes at $0.91 per square foot of property owned. Aman confirmed with The Press that the average property size in Richardton consists of two lots, or a total of approximately 7,000 square feet.
Based on the proposed amount, the average property owner within the assessed district will pay $6,370.00 for the project, if paid in full the first year. Those spreading the increases over the lifetime of the assessment, 20 years, will pay nearly $8,553.79, or $427.68 per year. The additional amount factors in a 3% interest the city is placing on the assessment.
Residents of Richardton, as part of the proposal, can expect a 0.5% sales tax increase for the next 20 years, which the city will use to offset properties owned by the entity of Richardton within the assessment district — approximately 8.5% of the special assessment district.
The Street Rehab Project will not be the only project Richardton residents are paying for, as many are still under the previous special assessment district on a sewer lagoon project expected to conclude in 2024, according to Commission President Tom Roll.
Roll did not address the specifics of the outstanding project but did confirm that the amount paid by those residing within Richardton will likely be compounded as long as both special assessments are in effect.
Commissioner Kevin Remington alleged that most of the 40% covered by the city would likely be paid through oil and gas revenue the city receives from the state.
“Reasonable chance that this will take care of most of the City’s portion of the funding obligation,” Remington’s portion of the presentation said.
Roll seems to tell a different story.
“We weren’t relying on oil and gas to pay for this; We would use it if we had it.. the plan was really not to rely on it,” he said.
Oil and gas revenues have declined over the recent years. The 2020 oil and gas revenue is the lowest this half-decade reaching only slightly more than half of 2017’s revenue of $356,809.52.
Despite last year’s setbacks, Roll maintains that it is the proper time for such improvements, noting that the streets of Richardton have not been replaced in nearly 50 years.
The final decision will be made by the people of Richardton on Apr. 24, which is the official decision date when the commission will convene and tally the “votes” or letters in favor and/or against the project — leaving the fate of the project in the hands of its citizens.
The resolution of necessity will be published in The Dickinson Press after Feb. 8., and residents will have a chance to voice their support or opposition for the project in letters to the auditor by Mar.26.