Sidewalk Assessment Project

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Background

The Sidewalk Assessment Project is an annual program that is coordinated by the City of Marion Engineering Department. The project dates back to 1990–91 and is guided by the Sidewalk Assessment Committee. The committee is comprised of both voting and non-voting members.

Voting members:

  • Two citizens from the City of Marion
  • One representative from the Linn-Mar School District
  • One representative from the Marion Independent School District
  • One representative from the Marion Police Department
  • One Marion City Council Member
  • Assistant City Engineer

Non-voting members:

  • Planning and Development Director and/or Assistant Director
  • Public Service Director
  • Project Engineer

The Sidewalk Assessment Committee meets to discuss and rank the areas in most need of sidewalk from the list of potential locations. They use the following general guidelines:

  • Heavy pedestrian traffic in areas with no existing sidewalk
  • Areas with gaps in the existing sidewalk network
  • Sidewalks needs near school areas

The list has been compiled based on suggestions from citizens, school personnel, City staff, committee members, etc. The current list has roughly 20 different areas identified, with a total construction estimate of approximately $500,000. The current budget for this project is $90,000 per year.

The recommendation of the committee is then taken to the City Council via the Project Engineer and it is discussed by City Council. If the City Council agrees with the Sidewalk Assessment Committee’s recommendation the assessment process begins.

Property owners are then notified of the project and the maximum amount of the assessment. No matter what the cost of construction is, this value cannot go up, per Iowa State Assessment Law.

A public notice is published in the newspaper informing residents of a public hearing. Whether property owners agree or disagree with the scope of work, this is an opportunity to be heard.

If the City Council does not change the scope of the project, plans will continue within the following with approximate timeframes:

  • Gather field data of existing topographic information (As soon as weather permits)
  • Develop construction plans (As soon as field data is gathered – March to April)
  • Solicit bids to contractors (May)
  • Selection of low bidder (May)
  • Construction of project (Summer – weather dependent, you will receive notice)
  • Acceptance of project (After construction is complete – usually 4-5 weeks after construction starts)
  • Final Assessment Determination (After Acceptance of Project)

Options for the installation of the sidewalk

OPTION 1
The City of Marion designs and solicits bids for the work for the entire project. The property owner pays for ½ the cost of the sidewalk installed, including the portion through the drive if required. Payment can be handled in one of two ways outlined below. The City assumes the remaining cost of the sidewalk and all other costs associated with the work. Other things that can add significantly to the project include items such as grading, driveway removal and replacement, etc as needed to comply with various local, and federal guidelines including:

    OPTION 2
    Property owners can install the sidewalk on their own or hire a contractor that is licensed and bonded within the City of Marion. The City will reimburse ½ the cost of the sidewalk based on the bid price that the City receives with the Sidewalk Assessment Project, regardless of what individual costs are. Any additional cost to make the sidewalk compliant with local and federal guidelines such as grading, driveway removal and replacement, etc. is the responsibility of the homeowner. The sidewalk must be installed to meet the design set for the project. The City must receive written notice from the property owner prior to the contractor starting work if choosing this option.

    Payment of the assessment value

    Payment can be made in one of two ways. It is accepted in full at the time the project is completed or the assessment is added to the property tax bill from Linn County.

    1. Payment in full is due at the time specified on the Final Assessment Notice. The project has to be designed, bid, constructed, and accepted, which can take roughly 8 months to complete.
    2. If the assessment total for the property is over $500, the cost is divided over 10 years and has an annual interest rate of 9% on the property tax bill. If the total assessment is under $500, the entire amount appears on the next property tax bill with an interest charge.

     Examples of previous years

    Year

    Preliminary Assessment Total for all Properties

    Final Assessment of all Properties

    Total Construction Cost

    % Home Owner Paid of Total

    % City Paid of Total

    2009

    $4,966.11

    $4,075.99

    $39,164.36

    10%

    90%

    2010

    $8,906.15

    $5,351.99

    $33,296.92

    16%

    84%

    2011

    $18,370.00

    $6,664.00

    $34,583.91

    19%

    81%

    2012

    $9,512.00

    $5,122.75

    $65,815.27

    8%

    92%

    (Note: Does not guarantee future results; 2009 a portion of the properties were City owned properties; 2011 there were several properties that were removed from the assessment list due to budget constraints, 2012 budget increased and several properties were City owned properties.)

    Questions

    Questions regarding the Sidewalk Assessment Project can be directed to the Engineering Department at 319-743-6340.

    Location descriptions for future consideration for new sidewalk should be submitted in writing along with contact information for the person submitting it.