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Lansing sewer project still set for summer

Austin City Council received an update on the proposed Lansing-area sewer system Monday night, and the project is still slated to get underway in late-July.

Earlier this month, council officially voted to go ahead with the project, which would bring a sewer system to the Lansing annexation, a 338-acre piece of land to the north of town that officially joined the city early last year. Currently, much of the waste from the area discharges directly into the Cedar River.

On Monday, City engineer Jon Erichson went over the project’s schedule with council during a semimonthly work session. That schedule calls for bids to be opened in mid-May, which would then allow the city to calculate exactly how much to assess citizens — it has already been determined that the entire project will be paid for by area property owners. Estimates have the price tag at roughly $3.7 million to be split between about 200 people, which equates to approximately $17,000 each.

After the exact assessment amounts are determined, council would have a public hearing, which is currently slated for June 21. That hearing would allow residents opposed to the project and its cost — of which there have been a number — to raise objections to their assessments.

Erichson said in most instances, an assessment won’t be dropped because the citizen objecting to it would inevitably receive some benefit, including a spike in property value because of the new sewer system. The engineer added that it’s hard to justify not assessing some people and then assessing others more to make up the difference.

City administrator Jim Hurm said it’s impossible to make everyone happy in situations like this, but said it is possible to strive for fairness.

“There’s no right way to do special assessments,” he said. “You just try to be consistent.”

When that process is complete and any issues resolved, the city is looking at a final vote on the project July 19. Work would then begin shortly thereafter, Erichson said.

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