A Special Assessment District, or SAD, is a process that enables the City of Reno to complete certain infrastructure improvements and assess the cost to benefiting adjacent property owners. Under current City policies the cost of sidewalk and driveway approach repairs are the responsibility of the property owner. The authority to form a Special Assessment District is found in Section 271 of the Nevada Revised Statutes and the City of Reno has been utilizing SAD's for over fifty years.
The current SAD is associated with a City of Reno Neighborhood Street Rehabilitation Project or the Regional Transportation Commission's (RTC) Street Rehabilitation projects. Sidewalk replacement will be completed during the street projects for the lowest construction price possible. Forming an SAD is the most efficient way for the City and the property owners to address this matter.
Q:Why is the estimate for repair of the sidewalk and driveway approach so high?
This amount is inflated to reflect a maximum benefit, which is the maximum amount a property owner can be charged once the assessment district is created by the City Council. The actual amount charged is dependent upon the bids received for the project and final design, inspection and processing fees. Typically, the final assessment amount is less than the initial assessment amount.
Q:Will a lien be placed on my property?
Yes, unless you choose to pay the full assessment within the 'cash payment period.' No action is taken on the lien unless you fail to pay the semi-annual payments when due. The lien will be removed when the assessment is paid in full.
Q:Do I have to participate in the SAD? Is there a public process the SAD has to go through prior to it being formed and adopted?
Over 50% of the participants (by contract value) in the SAD must protest participation in the SAD. In this instance, the City is considered a participant in the district because they are responsible for improving the street, the curbs and the gutters. Therefore, most districts can be formed based on only the City's involvement. The City Council is the legislative body that formally creates any Special Assessment District.
State law requires participants in a proposed SAD be given the opportunity to protest the formation of the SAD and/or their particular proposed assessment at a public hearing prior to the SAD being created. All property owners to be assessed as part of the proposed SAD are notified by mail of the date, time and place the public hearing will be conducted. Participants may protest either in person at the public hearing or by writing a letter of protest to the City Clerk prior to the public hearing.
Those wishing to Protest the District must provide a written protest to the City Clerk no later than three days prior to the Public Hearing date. The City Council will hear all protests at the Hearing, but only those submitted the City Clerk 3 days prior to the Hearing will have legal basis for protest.
Q:What criteria are used to determine if I have a deficient sidewalk or driveway approach? How was the criteria established?
The sidewalk and driveway approach along the frontage of your property was evaluated against criteria related to deterioration and tripping hazards. The criteria were originally established by a committee to ensure uniformity in the evaluation of the various infrastructure items. The criteria has been reviewed and modified over time to address the concerns of property owners and the City Council. The criteria have been formally adopted by the City Council.
Q:What about damage to the sidewalk from trees?
Trees growing within the City right of way are referred to as 'City Trees'. The City Council has elected not to assess property owners for the replacement of sidewalks that have been damaged solely by City Trees, typically growing within the parkway between the sidewalk and curb. However, repairs to sidewalks due to property owner trees or damaged sidewalk adjacent to City Trees that are not caused by the tree are assessed to the adjacent property owner.
Q:Will I be able to perform the required work myself?
You have the option of having the required work performed by another contractor prior to the City's contractor performing the work. If you opt to do the work yourself, you will be required to use a City approved licensed and bonded contractor in accordance with the provisions contained in the Reno Municipal Codes. All work will be done in accordance with the approved plans for the project. If you opt to do the work yourself, you will not be entitled to participate in the SAD or finance the cost of the work through the City.
Q:Do I have to pay the assessment as soon as the work is completed? Is there a financing plan available if we can't pay the entire amount at one time?
Once the work is completed a final assessment will be prepared. Typically, the final assessments won't be ready to mail to the property owners until 4-6 months after the work is completed. When the final assessments are adopted by the City Council, and the Ordinance Levying the Assessment becomes law, usually sixteen (16) days after the Public Hearing, you will have a minimum of thirty (30) days to pay all or a portion of your assessment. Any assessment amount remaining after the '30 day cash payment period' will be shifted to the financing plan available through the City.
The financing plans available through the City are normally a ten year payback period. You will be billed on a semi-annual basis with payments of principal and interest due on September 1 and March 1 of each year. The interest rate associated with this plan is set at the time the bonds necessary to cover the project costs are sold. The interest rate is subject to a number of market factors that cannot be evaluated as part of this document. However, since the bonds are tax exempt, the rate is typically lower than what most financial institutions charge on regular loans. The formula used to calculate payments utilize simple interest as opposed to compound interest.
Q:Can I pay the assessment prior to the work taking place?
No. Until the work has been completed, the property owner's final assessment costs cannot be determined. Typically, the final assessment cost is considerably lower than the initial estimate.
Q:Can I pay the assessment off early even if I choose to use the City's financing plan?
Yes. You may pay off the assessment at anytime after the final assessment roll has been filed with the County Treasurer and sent to our Assessment District Consultant, Assessment Management Group (AMG) for processing. However, once the bonds have been sold, there will be a pre-payment penalty. The AMG web-page at www.amgnv.com can provide information about future payments and pay off amounts.
Q:Will I be charged for work being done to the street?
No. Street Rehabilitation Program funds are designated by the City Council and are designed to fund the repair of the street, the curbs and the gutters. If any repairs are necessary to sidewalks and if it the damage meets the criteria for replacement, it will be addressed to the affected property owner. These assessments are done through the SAD process.
Q:What happens if I own a corner lot? Will I receive a full assessment on both street frontages?
You will be assessed for the improvements on both street frontages, whether they are done simultaneously or years apart. However, if you own a single family dwelling and it is zoned as such, you will receive a 50% reduction in the assessment on the non-address street frontage. Multi-family units, commercial or industrial uses will pay the full assessment on both street frontages.
Q:How are the streets picked for repair?
The streets are selected based in the Pavement Condition Index (PCI) and the area of the City targeted for repair in any particular year. Streets with a PCI of 55 or less are considered candidates for rehabilitation, which can range from a minor overlay to reconstruction. The City's priorities are the streets between a PCI of 41-55, which is the overly category. Streets in this range can be improved at approximately half the cost of a full reconstruction. Therefore, it is important to catch the 'overlay' streets before they become 'reconstruct' streets. Although overlays are preferred, not all streets can be rehabilitated this way and a number of reconstruct streets are selected for improvement each year.
Beginning in 1998, streets with condition rating between 56 and 70 have been and will be candidates to receive a preventive maintenance, a combination of patching, crack sealing and slurry seal surface treatments. This will extend the service life of the roadway. There will also be no concrete work and therefore no assessments with these surface treatments.