TURTLE LAKE, N.D. (KXNET) — People living in Turtle Lake received a case of sticker shock recently after receiving a letter from the city.
The area is currently planning to make improvements around town worth more than $6 million, but unfortunately, doing so would mean that its residents would have to pay.
This week, town leaders got an earful from the town of just over 500 people, as neighbors were asked to ‘shell out’ money for over $6 million in improvements.
“I wouldn’t say I wanted to jump into it,” Turtle Lake city commissioner Stacie Adams said. “I was approached. Good or bad, I agreed.”
In the year since she was picked to serve the town of Turtle Lake, Adams says she’s had chances to deal with the good and the bad.
“It started with residents saying, ‘We need to do something about our streets’,” Turtle Lake Mayor Dianne Zenker said. “Stacie and I drove every street in Turtle Lake and had a color-coded map saying, ‘this street is OK. This one isn’t.'”
The early estimate to fix up Turtle Lake’s roads was $5 million, which, if approved, would be paid for in special assessments.
“When we heard the amount of $5 million, every commissioner’s jaw dropped,” Mayor Zenker said. “We didn’t even think about it. The cost is high. The special assessment was high, but we still wanted them to say, ‘yes, no, or try again’.”
This week, Turtle Lake residents got a letter from the city showing them some of the prices that would need to be paid if the city were to move forward with the sewer and street work. It also gave neighbors a chance to sign a protest, which many did.
City leaders opted to put off the street work until a later date. However, they’ll likely soon approve the $1.2 million sewer work, meaning homeowners are likely to pay another $13.50 a month in assessments.
“You’re looking at $13.50 a month versus about $150 a month,” Adams said. “Especially for those on fixed incomes. My dad is on a fixed income.”
“The feeling I got last night,” recalled Zenker, “was that yes, we need to do something about our streets, but we can’t afford this.”
Both Adams and Zenker say they’re open to ideas — but in this case, federal grants are unlikely, and the duo say raising property taxes wouldn’t generate enough money to fix the roads. They likely won’t decide on the street plan until next year.
“The cost is going to go up,” stated Zenker. “Obviously. I don’t see anything going down.”
So far, Zenker and Adams tell us they haven’t voted on the sewer project. The vote will likely occur during next month’s meeting.