city hall

Fees collected to maintain Belgrade streets will incrementally raised for the next years to boost a handful of obligations to residents.

The Belgrade City Council originally set a $71 per year fee in 2012, but variations existed for trailer parks and other properties.

This time around all properties will share the same cost, City Manager Ted Barkley said.

“This has been four years in the making,” he told the council. “We are raising it $1 per month per year. Everyone pays the same.”

The fee will be hiked to $83 for the 2019 tax year, $95 for the 2020 tax year and $107 for the 2021 tax year, according to city records.

Barkley told the council city staff is “struggling” in some areas.

The idea is to “improve snow removal and weed control,” he said.

The money may also be used to fund a lighting district downtown, which has been a long time coming, Councilman Brad Cooper has said, but it remains unclear if that will happen.

Weeds are a yearly common complaint from the council. Often homeowners aren’t aware they are on the hook for weed control in the alley, street corners and public right of way, Barkley said. The city often has to pay a contractor to solve the problem, which in turn eats away at the bottom line.

Chip sealing is also a regular duty funded by the district, according to city records. The council voted in 2012 to combine all of the city’s 24 street districts into one fund.

Each district was funded by a varying amount of property owners, which limited the city’s ability to maintain all of its streets due to funding shortages, according to city records. Creating one citywide district would eliminate that problem and would also allow the city to have an annual maintenance schedule.

During the public comment period, a resident said a shortage of workers appears to be the main problem with keeping up with snow removal.

Barkley agreed and said the public works department will increase its staff over the next three budget cycles to handle the increase in services.

In other business, the council did the following:

• Approved the installation of a climbing rock structure at Prairie View Park.

• Heard a variance request for a fire service line for Montana Linen Supply.

• Approved an improvements agreement for the second phase of Story Creek subdivision.

• Heard a wastewater report.