Rapids Common Council approves transportation utility
For the City Times
WISCONSIN RAPIDS – The Wisconsin Rapids Common Council recently approved the transportation utility to fund $500,000 in operating and maintenance expenses for streets and sidewalks, and eliminate special assessments. The transportation utility is set to replace revenues from special assessments at $350,000 and increase road surfacing efforts at $150,000.
Transportation utility fees will be charged through the Water Works and Lighting Commission utility bills. Billing may start as soon as July 2022.
“Properties with pending special assessments will not be charged the proposed Special Assessment charge. In the coming weeks, a formal letter will be sent to each of the properties that were noticed of pending special assessment charges,” a city release stated.
“The transportation utility is a mechanism to raise revenue, similar to other utilities, and is based on a customer’s relative use of the road system (or the property’s ‘trip generation’). Trip generation for each property within the City is determined using the Institute of Transportation Engineers’ Trip Generation Manual. The trip generation manual is derived from hundreds or thousands of studies across the nation for many different land uses. The data is analyzed and characterized in a way that can be compared across similar land uses with similar characteristics.
“The utility revenue of $500,000 is divided by the annual trips generated within the city to determine a cost per trip. The cost per trip is applied to the trips generated at each property within the city: Single family residential -$20/year, per dwelling unit; Duplex and triplexes -$17/year, per dwelling unit; Multi-family with four or more units-$16/year, per dwelling unit; Commercial, institutional, industrial properties generate trips based on the type of business/use and certain characteristics, such as square foot of floor space, so each business has a unique charge.
“There have been growing concerns about special assessments regarding assessment procedures and the amount of assessments to property owners. In 2020, city council instructed staff to perform a review of the special assessment process and identify available funding options as a substitute for special assessments. The city has analyzed public survey data, and the pros and cons for several special assessment alternatives to select the transportation utility model as the most equitable alternative for further exploration.”