More Edina homeowners will get 15 rather than 10 years to pay off assessments for street improvements, after a vote by the City Council this week.
Unlike most metro-area cities, Edina bills residents for the entire cost of street reconstruction, a stance that the city agreed to re-examine after objections from residents this year.
Earlier this month, the council voted to give people more time to pay those bills, and it cut the interest rate charged by the city in half. The changes are expected to save someone with a $10,000 street assessment about $730. Annual payments would drop from $1,375 over 10 years to $868 over 15 years.
For technical reasons linked to bond sales, the new policy was supposed to kick in for street projects that are assessed next year. But city officials later discovered it was legal to make it effective for projects that are assessed after Sept. 1. That means an additional 813 property owners who would get their first street assessment this year could take advantage of the change.
The council also had voted to assume the cost of sidewalks, trails and lighting tied to street projects by paying for those with a new utility franchise fee. This week, the council postponed that because members have not yet approved the franchise fee. Council members indicated they intend to do that, but officials said even after approval there will be no money in that fund until the second quarter of 2013.
MARY JANE SMETANKA