Three public input sessions will follow a joint meeting of Bismarck’s Special Assessment Task Force and Infrastructure Task Force, who have been meeting separately to discuss ways to pay for future public infrastructure improvements within the city.
“It is now time to put some lipstick on the thing and go out and have, probably three, public input opportunities and let people tell us what they think,” said Mayor Mike Seminary. “It’s just the beginning of the process. Nothing definitive has been decided."
Last month, the Special Assessment Task Force made a recommendation to the city commission to do away with future special assessments in favor of monthly maintenance fees and an increase in local sales tax.
The monthly fee, estimated at about $20, would be added to residents’ utility bills and would pay for street maintenance.
An increase in sales tax, not to exceed three-quarters of a cent, would be used to pay for new arterial road construction. A public vote would be required.
In addition, the Infrastructure Task Force recommends capping property tax buydowns at 2018 levels, which also would require a vote.
“There are those of us in our social circles, as well as the commission’s social circles, who find this to be not likeable,” said resident Robert Graham, at Tuesday's city commission meeting.
“We’re not in favor of this and find that its implementation and/or details are far from adequately developed at this time and, in my opinion, are not in the best interest of the city’s overall expansion and continuation," he said.
One question raised at last month's commission meeting was, "Do large lots pay the same monthly fee as small lots?"
Assistant City Administrator Jason Tomanek said a tiered approach may be difficult to administer due to anomalies within lots throughout the community, both large and small. He said an established fee would be the most equitable approach.
No dates have been set for the public input sessions.