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Residents question cost increase to fix unimproved road

Posted at 5:53 PM, Mar 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-27 19:37:30-04

Residents who have asked the city to help fix their unimproved road now want to know why their part of the cost is going up.

Today, the Omaha City Council unanimously approved creating two Street Improvement Districts in 85th and 86th Streets near Pacific Street, but some residents wonder whether they will want to pay their part with how much the cost has changed.

About 350 street miles of unimproved roads in Omaha are falling apart.

Decades ago, developers mostly built these roads with asphalt — and not up to newer city standards.

The city has a plan to pay for half the cost, if an SID is formed, leaving residents to pay the other half.

Paula Hazelrigg says her neighborhood is forming an SID to fix the road. She said in October, they were told it would cost $500 a year per house for 20 years, but said that number has almost doubled to $900 and that they will pay 5 percent interest.

“Could the city please communicate with us up front about cost?" she asked. "They kind of give you a little bit (of information) at a time, a little bit at a time, and then all of the sudden, it’s a lot more expensive than you thought it would be.

"We had trouble selling $500 a year for 20 years to some of the neighbors, and I know we’ll not be able to sell $900 or $2,000 a year,” Hazelrigg said.

The Public Works Department says the neighborhoods get an initial cost number but it changes when they’re closer to forming an SID. 

Councilman Chris Jerram says the city should be able to give better cost estimates because they’ve done this a few times.

“Providing a number that is likely to be in the general vicinity of and not so far off like this one was,” Jerram said.

Public Works won’t maintain the unimproved roads because they’re not up to code, and it costs less to replace.

Now that the SID is formed, the residents will get a more accurate estimate of how much they’d owe.

If they don’t want to go through with it they can protest starting in a few weeks.