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Perham city leaders poised to move on street and utility projects, despite higher costs

The increased cost will lead to an increase in the assessment rates for affected property owners, though city leaders say the increases won't be as high as they could have been. Both the city and county will be providing more funding for the project than first thought.

After a public hearing on Thursday, May 26, the Perham City Council will likely accept a bid to move forward with a street and utility rehabilitation plan that's been in the works for years and that city leaders say is badly needed, despite the bids coming in higher than expected.
After a public hearing on Thursday, May 26, the Perham City Council will likely accept a bid to move forward with a street and utility rehabilitation plan that's been in the works for years and that city leaders say is badly needed, despite the bids coming in higher than expected.
Perham Focus file photo
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PERHAM — After years of planning, the 2022 Utility and Street Rehabilitation Project in Perham is about to begin.

The estimated cost of the project has increased by nearly $1 million since it was first officially discussed with the community in August 2021 , due to the project bids coming in higher than anticipated. Costs also had to be redistributed based on bid contractor specifications.

The increased cost will lead to an increase in the assessment rates for affected property owners, though city leaders say the increases won't be as high as they could have been. Both the city and county will be providing more funding for the project than first thought.

The project will now cost an estimated $10,848,000 — up from the $9,768,000 estimated in 2021.

Pandemic-related shipping issues, labor shortages and back orders have led to significant cost increases on projects of this sort nationwide.

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Of the total cost, the county will now pay for $6,796,130 (up from its original commitment of $5,385,000) and the city will pay $4,051,871 (up from $2,120,500) — the city's portion includes the assessments to property owners, which total $1,560,600.

The city and county's additional funding helped keep the bump in assessments down, City Manager Jonathan Smith told the Focus, such that affected property owners will each be assessed an additional "couple hundred bucks each, essentially," instead of the thousands more it could have potentially been.

Assessments are still based on how much of a property abuts the project area, as well as on the services improved along the property, such as water and sewer.

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The sides of First Avenue North's pavement is cracked after years of vehicle traffic passing over it.
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus

Smith said that, based on the bid the city is likely to accept, sanitary sewer service will cost $3,450 and water service will cost $3,775. The street rate will now be $75.06 per frontage foot.

Property owners will receive their newly estimated assessment costs in the mail, and will be able to pay them throughout the next 15 years. They will have a chance to voice their concerns or ask more questions at an assessment hearing on Thursday, May 26 at 5:15 p.m. in the city council chambers.

Following the hearing, the city will hold a special council meeting to likely accept a bid.

"It's a needed project," Smith said. "We're fixing utilities in areas where we've had issues over the last several years, so it's kind of one of those things that needs to be done."

Utility work will consist of sanitary sewer replacement and water infrastructure replacement, while street construction will consist of replaced roadways, reviews of sidewalks and residential roadway pavement, and select sidewalk connections. Some areas will receive improvements to curbs, gutters, and drainage.

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Repairs will be completed based on what is needed in the project's four different areas of improvement. Those four areas are: First Avenue North from Main Street to city limits, around Mosquito Heights Road, which will then be continued by a separate county repair project on County Highway 8 through County 53; Fourth and Fifth Avenues and Fourth and Fifth Streets in the southwest portion of town; the southwest alley between Second Street Southwest and Main Street West, and; Pinewood Lane.

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This map shows the areas that will be worked on in the upcoming street and utility rehabilitation project in Perham.
Contributed / City of Perham

Depending on the bid the city accepts, it is very likely that the project will be split between 2022 and 2023. County 8 will be completed this year, and the southwest portion will likely be completed next year.

"We ask for patience and caution when these projects happen," Smith said. "It's a slight inconvenience, but hopefully minimal in the grand scheme of life. When we have aging infrastructure, we need to replace it. We do what we can to get to every area of town as fast as we can."

Elizabeth (she/her), 23, graduated with a degree in Journalism and Communications from the University of Wisconsin–Stout in 2020. Elizabeth has always had a passion for telling stories about people and specializes in community features, which she uses for her Perham-centered content.
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