City resident raises issue with sidewalk repair costs

WATERTOWN — For the second time this year, Michael LaDue complained about the city’s sidewalk program.

Residents recently received a letter from City Comptroller James E. Mills about how much the city will charge them for repairing sidewalks in front of their homes.

But Mr. LaDue, who lives on South Indiana Avenue, complained the letter didn’t include how much interest he’ll have to pay for a property at 1103 Gill St. that he owns.

“You want me to sign on to a program when I don’t know all the terms and conditions,” he told council members Monday night. “It’s not right.”

Last February, council members unanimously agreed to nearly double the cost that homeowners will pay for sidewalk repairs, from $5.75 per square foot to $10 per square foot, with a maximum charge of $3,000 per property.

City Council members placed the $3,000 cap for residents who live on corners and have more sidewalks in front of their properties.

Mr. LaDue, whose property is located on a corner, will be charged $3,000 for 508 square feet of sidewalks that will be replaced in front of the Gill Street property he owns. The city is paying for the other $2,080 of the cost of the repairs to his sidewalk.

In responding to the complaint, Mr. Mills said he cannot tell residents the interest rate until they borrow the money because they don’t know how many residents will participate in the program. He thinks it would probably be in the 1.5 to 2 percent range.

Homeowners have three ways they can pay for the program.

They can participate in the program and then have 10 years to pay back the city for the sidewalk work. They can hire a contractor to do the work, or they can complete the sidewalks themselves.

Mayor Joseph M. Butler Jr. said he had never heard anyone else complain about the sidewalk program, which allows homeowners to pay for the repairs over time.

Residents are required to pay $300 a year over the next 10 years, or $25 a month, he said.

“They pay more for junk food a month,” he said.

Earlier this year, Mr. LaDue complained that some residents who live near his property did not have to pay for the sidewalk repairs.

The mayor stressed those sidewalks were funded through the city Community Development Block Grant program, which is aimed at helping lower income families.

The repairs will be completed in the 200 block of North Indiana Avenue, the 1000 and 1100 block of Gill Street, the 100 block of Bronson Street and a part of the 200 block of North Pleasant Street.

In the past, the city put aside $150,000 for the annual sidewalk program, and city work crews completed the work. This year, they set aside $300,000 in the current budget for the repairs.

While property owners will be billed $10 per square foot for the work, the contractor will charge $16.41 per square foot, so the city will end up paying a portion of the repairs.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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