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Posted on: January 7, 2022

Annual special maintenance fee approved

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SPEARFISH – The Spearfish City Council Monday approved a resolution levying the annual special maintenance fee, or front-foot assessment, for street surfaces. 

The front-foot assessment has been in place since 2000, and the 2022 annual maintenance fee, to be collected in 2023, will assess 80 cents per linear foot of taxable parcels fronting and abutting City streets, with a maximum of 100 feet ($80 annual fee). 

Previously, the fee was 40 cents per foot with a maximum of 100 feet ($40 annual fee).

The assessment helps to fund street maintenance projects in the City, which includes more than 80 miles of maintained streets. The past assessment rate collected approximately $1.9 million since 2003, the timeframe for which the data is available. City Finance Officer Michelle DeNeui explained that the projected cost of street maintenance for 2022 is only $10,000 less than that total collected since 2003. 

The resolution initially called for $1.20 per linear foot, with a maximum of 100 feet ($120 annual fee), and several citizens provided comments to the City Council, describing that while they did not think an increase was out of line, the proposed increase was too large an increase to start.

Mayor Dana Boke pointed out that the assessment has not changed for more than 20 years, while costs have gone up exponentially. She added that the special maintenance fee does not cover, nor is meant to cover, the full cost of repair and maintenance of the streets. With a mill levy that has decreased over the past decade, the special maintenance fee is the other option for how the City can collect funds to assist with the costs of street maintenance/repair.

South Dakota Codified Law 9-43-76 authorizes municipalities to levy special assessments on private properties for local improvements that provide public benefit. 

Councilors stated they wished to see an incremental increase going forward, with Councilor Ana Rath making a motion to amend the resolution to an 80-cent-per-foot rate, with a 100-foot maximum. Councilor Pam Jacobs seconded the motion, which passed 5-1, with Councilor Larry Klarenbeek, who originally proposed the $1.20-per-foot rate, voting nay.

City Finance Officer DeNeui described the 80-cent-per-foot rate, with a $80 maximum annual fee, is projected to bring in approximately $251,000 when collected in 2023. 

The resolution will be published January 8 and be effective January 28. City Finance Officer DeNeui stated notices would be sent out by Lawrence County to property owners around the 1st of March.

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