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Montreal studies revenue streams

 

May 13, 2021



MONTREAL, Wis. — Finding new ways to fund growing streets and infrastructure costs was the main topic of discussion at the Montreal City Council meeting on Tuesday.

In a transportation utility study presentation Jeff Seamandel, a project manager with the engineering firm MSA Professional Services, said that some Wisconsin municipalities are transitioning from the special assessment fee to areas specifically benefiting from street maintenance and other infrastructure improvements to a community-wide transportation fee system. The transportation fee involves creating a formula to assess fees per property, residence or business based on an estimated number of trips per day. 

Land parcels, the size of a single family home, or the frequency of traffic to a business, are all factors that determine what an average fee to be included with the utility bill, he said. The amount of the fee depends on the city’s fundraising goal, divided into the number of months in a year and across the population base of the municipality, he said. 

The board said the transportation fee was worth looking into but presented several questions regarding structure and implementation. Councilmember Bill Thomas said there would need to be a public hearing before moving forward.

Seamandel continued with updates on a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) application that involved four water, sewer and street projects. He said three of the streets did not qualify due to the city’s low to moderate income percentage at 47.3%.

To qualify the city will need to show it has a 51% or higher percentage of low to moderate income residents, he said. The calculation comes from Department of Housing and Urban Development statistics, he said. 

To determine if the city can still qualify for the CDBG grants of up to $1 million or 67% of project costs then a community survey will need to be sent out to show a higher percentage of low income exists than the HUD calculation. The surveys would need to be completed by February 2022.

Seamandel also discussed Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources principal forgiveness funding for sewer and water projects. The city could take out low interest loans for its surface water and drinking water projects that can be forgiven depending on remaining state funds.

Seamandel also discussed the lead service line replacement project grant from the DNR, a grant that reimburses replacement of lead or galvanized lines downstream from lead lines on private properties. 

Mark Haeger, city public works department foreman, said that the city replaced several water mains in some areas around 20 years ago in connection to other infrastructure replacement. There are still locations of the city where mains have lead goosenecks that would need to be replaced before private water lines are replaced. 

Replacing the goosenecks isn’t a costly problem, but digging up roads to get to them will be a larger project, he said 

The project could start by determining which homeowners opted to replace their water lines 20 years ago when the street construction occurred, he said. Those who did not and have lead or galvanized lines could qualify for the replacement grant, he said. 

“I recommend that we move forward with this and get more information,” said Mayor Erik Guenard, of both the lead line replacement and the transportation utility fee proposal.

In the councilmember comments, Kelly Traczyk asked that the city departments start a written log of comments they take from residents. The purpose is to create a history of interaction regarding suggestions and complaints in order to track progress and to ensure ongoing matters continue with new staff and councils. 

Councilmember Maleah Cummings suggested committees and commissions to devote more time to matters that are not possible at the monthly council meetings. 

Guenard reiterated his pledge to make roads the priority and to find more funding sources to complete projects. He said roads are not only important to the community but are essential to attracting visitors and future investment.

In the public comments, three residents were present to request maintenance work. Two residents pointed out areas of road with large potholes in Montreal and Gile, while the third resident reported an uncapped shutoff valve that presented a hazard for small animals.

In other business, the city council approved:

—Curbside spring clean up of yard waste in separated twigs and leaves piles through May 31.

—A $100 donation to Hurley Area Youth Softball and Baseball.

—Purchase of two lawnmowers, one 54 inch and the other 50 inch, from Giovanoni True Value Hardware.

—A land title swap with Paul Samardich, contingent on city attorney approval.

 
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