Covering the cost of Barstow construction - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Covering the cost of Barstow construction

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - Eau Claire property owners are getting a better idea of what the South Barstow bill will look like.  This summer, the street will be rebuilt alongside improvements to the sidewalk and lighting.

"We would like for construction to start right after Memorial Day," says Director of Eau Claire Public Works Brian Amundson.

But once construction is complete, businesses will have to pick up a big part of the tab.

"I may have to try and borrow the money somewhere else.  I don't think I'll be able to pay it all off in one lump sum, that's a pretty good chunk of money," says Antiques Emporium owner Hugh Passow.

The estimate for the chunk owners pay is around $625,000, which they'll be discussing with city council next Monday night.

"If the council approves it, then we'll go out and take bids, construct the project.  The final special assessments won't be placed on their tax rolls or won't be available until the fall of this year," says Amundson.

Those numbers are preliminary for now, but property owners do have a ballpark estimate based on their frontage size.

"Pretty much the properties on these streets are, I think it's 26 feet or 52 feet," says Passow.

At the Antique Emporium, Hugh has one of the city's 52 foot lots.  Which for the purpose of this construction project, they've assessed at about $15,000.  Now when you break that down by the foot, it comes to about $288 per foot every property owner will have to pay for the reconstruction on Barstow.

"They would not be responsible to pay the first installments until the end of this year and would have until the first part of January 2014 to pay their first installment," says Amundson.

But will they be able to make enough money this summer during construction?

"Well that's the million dollar question.  Some businesses, I'm sure, are going to be really struggling.   I even talked to one person who said she may even close up her business during the summer," says Passow.

But it's not the  business or the owner the tax assessment actually charges.

"It's a special charge against the property.  So it's not against the owner.  It's a special benefit and is charged to the land," says Amundson.

A benefit which should help businesses in the long run, but for now they are planning to make the most out of this summer.

"Come down and shop with us during the summer, we're going to need all the help we can get," says Passow.

The South Barstow reconstruction project does not charge business owners for sanitary, sewer and water mains.  Those costs are paid by the city.  The road work isn't the only big project we're keeping an eye on downtown.  We'll have more on Eau Claire's confluence project on WQOW News 18 next week.

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