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Menahga City Council holds final passionate hearing on construction

On Thursday, Dec. 5 the Menahga City Council held a meeting open to the public to discuss the final stages of a road construction project, started this past year and to be finished in the spring of 2014.

The project is designed in three sectioned areas: Area one covers First Street NW, Cottonwood Avenue and Fir Avenue; Area two covers Main Street East, Birch Avenue, Elm Avenue and Fern Avenue and Area three covers Larch Avenue, 6th Lane, 4th Lane and Karri Lane.

Fifty percent of the project’s construction cost will be paid by the benefitting/adjacent property owners, also known as Menahga residents.

In accordance with Minnesota State Statute 429 the City of Menahga is required to hold a public hearing to correct any errors or inequities in the assessments presented to individual residents.

Menahga’s City Engineer Chris Thorson began the presentation with final project costs and assessment rates.

Interested residents were then allowed to question council members about the ongoing project’s progress, details and impending costs.

Menahga resident Duane Goeden was one resident displeased with the amount in which he will need to begin paying off in the New Year for the project’s completion.

Citing Minnesota statute 429.051 as legal precedent to adhere to in the matter, he said he does not feel an obligation to pay what the city is claiming he owed.

According to the statute, “The cost of any improvement may be assessed upon property benefitted by the improvement based upon the benefits received.”

Goeden claims the recent construction projects will not significantly increase his property’s value. In fact, he says it might even decrease it.

He says he has had two independent parties verify this fact by assessing his property value.

He does not see the projects as necessary and mandated improvements, but rather superfluous upgrades that were merely recommended by the state.

Forcing him to pay for city maintenance, he said, would be unconstitutional under state law, according to the precedent cited.

“Should residents be bearing the brunt of city maintenance when it’s a recommendation not a mandate? It adds no improvements to properties,” said Goeden.

Along with the estimated costs, residents were also concerned over the 5.2 percent interest being charged on city-offered 15- year loans.

One resident, Dawn Rossbach, would have liked to see more transparency throughout the entire process.

“I am a property owner and you cannot tell me that these projects increased my property value one bit,” Rossbach said. “This entire process we have had no voice and no choice.”

The Menahga City Council will be reviewing issues brought forth and will decide on them by January’s meeting.

Nick Longworth
A graduate from St. Cloud State University, Nick photographs and writes a variety of stories for nearly every section of The Park Rapids Enterprise. His duties also include section layouts and online content submission.
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