Cedar Rapids will delay road assessment because of COVID-19 financial concerns

More than 200 property owners were assessed for part of the $5.86 million E Avenue NW project

E Avenue NW near the intersection with Rock Valley LN NW looking east towards Stoney Point Rd. NW in northwest Cedar Rap
E Avenue NW near the intersection with Rock Valley LN NW looking east towards Stoney Point Rd. NW in northwest Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Because of financial uncertainties surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak, the city of Cedar Rapids plans to give property owners on or near E Avenue NW more time to pay for a road and sidewalk assessment.

The city sent out letters last week telling owners of more than 230 properties they have until April 13 to make zero-interest payments on their assessment for the $5.86 million project to upgrade E Avenue NW, from the Highway 100 extension to Stoney Point Road NW.

The project, completed last year, involved converting the E Avenue from a chip-seal rural road to an urban street with sidewalks, curbs, storm gutters and roundabouts, The Gazette reported in 2018.

People with properties along or near E Avenue knew they would be assessed amounts ranging from several hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, depending on location. The neighborhood share of the project was about 10 percent of the total cost.

The March 14 letter said if payments weren’t made by April 13, they would be included on property taxes over 10 years with 9 percent interest.

“I just think it’s in poor taste to go after people right now,” said Dan Kendall, who was assessed more than $600. “Certainly lop off the interest for people who can’t pay it in time.”

The spread of COVID-19 in Iowa has caused many stores, restaurants, bars and other businesses to close temporarily or reduce their workforces, which will affect paychecks and may cause more Iowans to file for unemployment.


The city is trying to figure out a way to delay the street assessment, Spokeswoman Emily Breen said Friday.

“Timelines for when assessments are issued are set by Iowa Code, and are based on when a project is officially accepted by City Council (meaning construction, change orders, documentation, etc. are all completed),” she wrote in an email. “However, the situation with COVID-19 has been rapidly changing, and we recognize the widespread effects it has had on families. Public Works staff is currently working with the City Attorney’s Office to identify measures that can be taken to allow a delay in payment. We hope to be able to have more details on that soon.”

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