- Associated Press - Friday, January 20, 2017

WINDSOR HEIGHTS, Iowa (AP) - Property taxes will increase this year to pay for 16 blocks of new sidewalks in Windsor Heights, a city where neighborhood streets haven’t had many sidewalks since homes were built in the 1950s.

The Des Moines Register (https://dmreg.co/2iSRyQF ) reports that in addition to the tax hikes, residents of 175 properties will be assessed as much as $3,500 for the new sidewalks outside their home, regardless of whether they want the sidewalks or not. The assessments will cover half the $880,000 project’s cost.

City Administrator Elizabeth Hansen says the timeline for the project includes construction beginning in July and all sidewalks installed by Nov. 1. Hansen said sidewalks will be installed on one side of the street, and residents on both sides of the street will share in the assessment costs.

A 2016 survey conducted by the city found 69 percent of residents didn’t want sidewalks in front of their home.

“We’re so frustrated,” said Donald Bustell, a 14-year resident of one of the streets getting sidewalks. “We’re getting a horrific raise in property taxes and they’re talking about an assessment.”

Original plans called for city tax dollars to fully fund the installation of new sidewalks, but Hansen said the city decided to assess half of the cost to be “fair and consistent,” for when it forms a future sidewalk replacement program. The program would require residents to repair deficient sidewalks in front of their homes and pay for half of the work.

If approved in March, the property tax increase will take effect July 1.

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, https://www.desmoinesregister.com

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