New Idea to Pay for Street Repairs Across Minnesota

Updated: 04/13/2014 10:22 PM
Created: 04/13/2014 9:27 PM
By: Jay Kolls

There is a push to find a new way to fund street repairs, on a regular basis, for cities throughout Minnesota. Your home is usually your biggest investment and a fixed up street protects that investment and is easier on the car.

Lori Yang wants her Edina home and neighborhood to have repaired streets, in a timely manner, "I actually didn't know if it was the shocks on my car getting really bad, or the streets, and actually I have noticed the streets have gotten pretty bad lately."

Yang likes the idea of paying a yearly fee to the city of Edina rather than a one-time, large tax assessment when it's time to rebuild her street, "you keep it up better, and that then makes sense to me. I would rather pay for it as I go than get the big bill at the end," she said.

This isn't about just filling pot holes. It's a proposed law that would let cities create street improvement districts - areas where they could collect money for year-round street repairs.

State Representative Ron Erhardt, (DFL) Edina, sponsored the bill. "This is not a one winter affair. This has been going on too long and they cannot maintain the base of these roads and they are really starting to crumble now and they need to have a steady, dedicated flow of money."

It represents a change. Instead of using money from property taxes, cities could use yearly tax assessments for on-going upgrades. Erhardt says it's a good investment strategy that actually saves money in the long run. "Wasted money, temporary stuff, into the potholes which will blow out of there in short time and it's not the potholes, it is the road deteriorating that bad."

Now, the challenge is convincing taxpayers, and other lawmakers, this is a good idea before the legislature goes home next month for summer.

The leaders from five cities sent a letter to state lawmakers asking them to approve the bill. Read the letter here.

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