by Tammy Sakry
Since it was adopted in 1992, the city of Ramsey’s septic system repair policy has seen little use.
It was originally intended to allow the city to go in and repair failing systems when the owners did not and assess the owners for the repairs, City Engineer Tim Himmer.
Although the city has not had to use the policy for non-volunteer owners, the city has received three requests since 2009 from owners looking for the city’s help for their failing/failed systems, the most recent Jan. 10.
The policy had nothing covering voluntary requests, Himmer said.
With the likelihood of more voluntary requests coming in as a result of the tough economic times, the Ramsey City Council unanimously approved at its Jan. 10 meeting amending the policy to include requested repair special assessments.
The policy amendment, which can only used in cases of imminent public health hazard because of a failed systems, sets the eligibility requirements and process for owners to be considered for the special assessment, including proof of what other programs they sought help from and were unsuccessful in securing alternative funding.
It also requires the property owner to continue investigating alternative funding options in an effort to pay off the special assessment prior to its term, usually 10 years.
If the owner secures alternative funding and is able to reimburse the city for all costs incurred for repairing/replacing the failed septic system within two years, the city will give them a 10 percent refund on the 25 percent administrative and overhead fee.
Before a property owner’s request can be considered, the city would verify the owner’s financial condition, which includes review of the mortgage and property tax payments history and checking the credit report.
This is a good policy to have, but there needs to be a more standardized way of determining if someone qualifies financially, said Councilmember Sarah Strommen.
According to Himmer, a study will be done on how other agencies handle similar cases and additional amendments could be made to the policy.
Tammy Sakry is at email@example.com