The cost per city parcel for the scheduled conversion of 260 mercury vapor streetlights to LED along the East Michigan Avenue and Ecorse area was discussed at a special Ypsilanti City Council work session Tuesday night.
City Planner II Teresa Gillotti and Jessica Teng, city intern and University of Michigan student, delivered a presentation on the streetlight special assessment district to council.
During the 2012 budgeting process, council determined that a special assessment district for streetlights would be important to aid in ensuring the city’s fiscal stability, and part of that is making sure the project cost doesn’t exceed its benefit.
The city’s general fund has had a deficit since 2009-10 and is projected to operate at a deficit for the next 3-4 years.
Current annual cost for street lighting for the 2011-12 year,
billed to the city by DTE, is $523,051. The cost was $501,651 in 2010-11 and is estimated to be $511,131 in 2012-13.
Right now, the city pays for the entire cost of the streetlights.
City Manager Ralph Lange said the assessment would lift the city’s burden by approximately 98 percent.
“When we had the tax money to do it, that was a service we
offered,” he said.
According to the report, “the special assessment will not only include the costs of providing electricity, maintenance, operations and replacement of streetlights, but it will include a small fee that will pay for the installation and retrofit of streetlights in the future.”
Ypsilanti resident James Blair said he thinks streetlights are a good idea as long as all property owners pay equally. He is concerned as to whether nonprofit organizations will be assessed, because their use may exceed his and most other citizens.
It is not yet clear how the assessment will be divided among property owners.
Council Member Susan Moeller is concerned that the way the assessment stands will not be understood in terms of fee allocation.
Gillotti and Teng are expected to recalculate expected costs and make a presentation to council by March 19.
“We will work on making this more transparent,” Lange said.
For a full reading of the streetlight special assessment, visit www.cityofypsilanti.com.
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