• January 15, 2014 - Maier Tree & Lawn
    • Jay Maier is a Board Certified Master Arborist and gave an interesting presentation about trees and their care. I learned many things I had never heard of! Here are some of the basic talking points, but they don't capture the discussion by any stretch:
    • Tree care is year round. Many trees are best pruned in winter.
    • Benefits of trees:
      • Shade & screen wind - save heating/cooling costs
      • Clean air and water
      • Slow storm water
      • Increase property value (add 10-20% for single family homes)
    • Top 3 concerns with trees on rental property:
      1. Poor soil/root conditions
      2. Trees that need pruning
      3. Insects and disease
  • February 19, 2014 - Special Assessments
    • Mark Baker and Doug Nelson from the Rochester Special Assessments department were our speakers.
    • We have 550 miles of streets in Rochester to be maintained. 50 of those miles are concrete, and the business district is concrete. Concrete is more expensive for new construction but much cheaper to maintain.
    • Street maintenance is paid for through the normal city's budget and comes from the property tax base.
    • Street reconstruction, on the other hand, is paid for 50% by special assessments and the other 50% is from the normal city's budget. When a street needs to be reconstructed, the properties along the street will be hit with a "special assessment". You can see their assessment rates here that shows the normal rates that will be paid by the property owners. Reconstruction has been paid by special assessments for the past 80 years in Minnesota, and this model is common across other states.
    • Some projects, like 2nd Street, are more expensive and require a higher assessment rate.
    • Property owners have the right to protest the rate of assessment. It's very expensive for the City when people protest. The case initially goes to mediation or arbitration, and this causes the City to spend additional money on appraisals and lawyer fees. Sometimes these costs exceed the amount the property owner is protesting, and these protests add a large cost to the overall project.
    • Once every three years, all streets in the city are assessed for condition in the areas of cracking, storm sewer, sidewalks, etc. There is a long term plan for street maintenance, and the special assessment department is hoping to make this information available publicly on their website at some point.
    • Annual maintenance includes chip seals, fog seals (for smooth pathways) and overlays.
    • A rehab, or reconstruction, project begins with a petition from the neighborhood to the city council or city works. You can see their flow chart here.
    • One of the main challenges with a rehab project once it's gone through all of the appeals processes, is to determine how to completely tear up the street and underlying utilities while allowing the residents to still live and work in that area. Everyone needs to continue to receive electric, water and sewer service, as well as being able to access their homes and businesses via streets and sidewalks.
    • One very interesting point was that the City makes an initial stab at how the trees in the project will be affected. Some will be planned to be removed, while other stay, but this can be challenged. The property owner has the right to choose one of 3 different categories for each tree, with one of those degrees that nothing whatsoever will harm it. This changes the design of the rehab and adds considerable expense, but I believe that expense is not paid by the property owner.

    We had a little time left after the above discussion, and Renee talked through some points in the "Getting to know your lease" article in the March, 2014 issue of The Multi Housing Advocate.

  • March 19, 2014 - Crime Prevention with Darrel Hildebrandt
    • Darrel walked us through the latest crime trends.
    • Darrel passed out Tips for avoiding telemarketing fraud and Ways you will get hacked.
    • The police department has free key lock boxes available for apartment buildings so they can enter without our help. The new boxes have a combination instead of a key that we have to keep. Contact Lt. Scott Davis for one. (sdavis@rochestermn.gov, 328-6984)
    • License plate thefts are up.
    • People who have taken the Rochester Landlord Public Safety Seminar before but would like to attend the afternoon session only may do so for free. E-mail Darrel to let him know you would like to attend.
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