HUGO — Now that two of the three phases of the Oneka Parkway improvement project are nearly complete, work has begun on the new traffic signal at Oneka Parkway and Frenchman Road.
Residents who live along the project now know how much they will be responsible to pay via city assessments, but still want to know what the final amount will be once the homeowners association’s portion of the assessment is passed on to residents.
The improvements included mill and overlay of the existing pavement section of Oneka Parkway from Frenchman Road (CSAH 8) to 149th Street; reconstruction of Oneka Parkway from 149th Street to Heritage Parkway; construction of turn lane improvements on Oneka Parkway from Frenchman Road to approximately 400 feet south, and construction of a traffic signal at the intersection of Oneka Parkway and Frenchman Road.
The total project cost is $2.6 million. About 14% of the project will be paid for by assessments, and the city will pick up the rest. State aid funding and county funding are also involved for a portion of the project. Eight hundred and sixty-three units will be assessed $422. The homeowners association (HOA) is also being assessed $15,949 for the clubhouse frontage. Assessments total $381,485.
During the assessment hearing, seven residents addressed the City Council.
Richard Hogan explained that in addition to this $422 assessment, his monthly HOA dues are currently $315 a month. “That $15,000 for the clubhouse is also going to drizzle down to us property owners,” he said.
Michelle Wolf echoed Hogan’s comments. “We are paying let’s just say $500, then charging a bunch of money to the association, which is going to eventually come back to me and everybody else that lives here. Doesn’t that feel like double dipping a little bit?”
Debra Schreiner said she felt more people and entities should be assessed for the project, as it isn’t just Waters Edge residents who utilize that roadway. “My concern is that this is being put on the association and not other houses … Any household that has a student that attends Oneka Elementary School should also be assessed, because they also benefit from this road; the buses that use this road should also be assessed. I feel like this assessment is 100% not fair to be put on the association.”
John Bredemus said he has lived in a lot of communities that have redone the street in front of his property and never been assessed. “Why did Vadnais Heights not charge me? Why did Anoka not charge me, but Hugo is?” He added, “I see it as a money grab. I will pay it and move on.”
Rick Bieniek wanted a further breakdown of exactly what state funds, county funds, gas tax funds etc. were being used for the project. “Many people are concerned about the costs beyond what we have to pay (in assessments) just being residents of the city. I’m trying to grasp that.”
City Attorney Dave Snyder explained to the residents that every city handles the assessment process a bit differently, but the process is guided by Chapter 429 of the state statutes. “Some cities pass along 100% of the cost and others do a portion,” he said. “The bulk of this project cost is being spread to other people, not the people that front on the roadway. This is probably an example of one of the broader areas of city participation in costs like this.”
He added, “It is not uncommon that a homeowner is presented with 100 cents of every project dollar … The council has some discretion in terms of how it applies that, and here they have opted to drive down the assessment cost pretty dramatically.”
City Engineer Mark Erichson added that the properties that were assessed for the project by City Hall were assessed $5,200 per unit. “So, we are looking at a pretty small amount of money,” he said. He explained that several months ago, he inquired with the HOA regarding how it planned to pass along its portion of the assessment to residents. At that time, he said, he was told the assessment would be applied across the entire Waters Edge community. That would likely mean a one-time charge of $15 to $20. Residents should inquire with the HOA for specifics and updated information.
Residents have until Nov. 15 to prepay their assessment in full without interest before the city certifies assessments to Washington County to be collected with property taxes in 2023. Once that happens, the assessments will be paid over five years at an interest rate of 4.25%. Residents can still prepay assessments in future years, but interest would be involved.
The traffic signal on Oneka Parkway and Frenchman Road should be operational by the end of 2022.
Managing Editor Shannon Granholm can be reached at 651-407-1227 or email@example.com.