Road project adds $42,656 to Green Bay homeowner's bill

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - People are voicing concerns over the fees associated with fixing roads in front of their property in Green Bay. In this case, it's costing some homeowners tens of thousands of dollars.

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It was standing room only at a city committee meeting earlier this week, and it's expected to be just as crowded at Green Bay's city council meeting on Tuesday.

Ask Lisa Sabin-Wilson why she moved to the area and she replies, "Um, Packers." Just like many in the area, Sabin-Wilson is a diehard Packers fan, but that's not the main reason she and her family moved here from Milwaukee.

"We wanted land, and we got land up here. We found it in 2016 and bought it."

Little did she know almost two years later that land would cost her an additional $42,656.

"We worked hard enough to come up with a down payment for this house, and now this."

For decades, city ordinance requires Green Bay homeowners to chip in when it comes to street projects in front of their property.

"Because they gain a benefit from that construction project," city Public Works Director Steve Grenier explained, "so those are what we know as
special assessments."

A special assessment is calculated based on the square footage of road in front of a property.

Sabin-Wilson owns more than 500 feet of frontage on Hillcrest Road, where the city is proposing a complete reconstruction to aid in future expansion on the far west side. Which is why she's looking at a hefty bill.

"These are life-altering amounts of money for people," she said.

She's not the first and won't be the last.

"If it happens to us, it's going to happen to them," she said.

Unless there's a policy change at city hall.

"I get it. My heart bleeds for these people. I understand it's a large financial impact. I know how it hurts them. It's an ordinance. There's nothing I can do with it," Grenier said.

Last year, Grenier and his team proposed a $20 wheel tax -- an annual vehicle registration fee which he estimated would generate about $2 million in its first year.

"The way we structured the plan that we brought forward last summer, the first item that would be taken care of through any monies raised on vehicle registration fee would be the complete elimination of special assessments for pavement construction on residentially zoned properties," Grenier said.

But that proposal was voted down by the city council, 7-5.

Meaning Sabin-Wilson forever home just got more expensive.

"We just settled here. I mean, at that point the bill is ours. If we sell the house, we still have to pay the bill," she said. "So we might as well stay and enjoy the damn road."

The city council has the final say over the Hillcrest Road project.

Most people we talked with are hoping it's denied on Tuesday, but that would mean there would be no maintenance on the road for years and four months of planning on the city's part would go to waste.

Monday on Action 2 News at Ten, we tell you how one alderman is working to find middle ground in what is now considered an all-or-nothing situation.