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Property owners respond to sewer project


January 24, 2019

The City of Thompson Falls last Thursday mailed notices to property owners of the intent to create Special Improvement Districts (SIDs) for the proposed wastewater treatment system. Property owners now have until Feb. 8 to provide written input on the creation of the SIDs.

At the Jan. 14 City Council meeting, council members were informed that if 51 percent of property owners provided written opposition to the creation of the SIDs, the project could not continue. Mayor Jerry Lacy said this week that the Bond Council misinformed the city, and that for sewer projects, 75 percent of property owners must provide written opposition during the protest period. However, Lacy also noted that it ultimately, it is up to the council to make the decision. They can choose not to proceed with the project, no matter the percentage of property owners who protest the SID creation.

Lacy said Tuesday that the city has received a handful of letters in protest of the project, and a handful of letters in support of the project. Property owners have until 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 8, to provide input. Notices were mailed to all property owners in Phases 1 and 2 of the proposed wastewater project, which includes properties above the railroad tracks from the west end of Thompson Falls east to Grove Street. SIDs are being sought for the project in order to help fund the project. The city council voted this month on their intent to create the SIDs, with the next step being the protest period. The city council will vote whether to create the SIDs at its Feb. 11 meeting.

With the creation of the SIDs, property owners would have to pay an assessment of $4,665 per parcel, collected on property taxes over 20 years at $308 per year. Last week, the city said that grants may be available for low-income seniors over the age of 62 to cover the SID assessment cost. Also, the city reported that they will seek a Community Development Block Grant to cover the assessments of low- and moderate-income property owners, regardless of age. The sewer project plan also includes a monthly rate of $55 for users. The initial monthly rate was $65.

The first two phases of the project are estimated to cost $14.9 million, and includes upgrades to the current city sewer system, which services residences and businesses below the railroad tracks.


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