This was not on the agenda, but it prompted a significant discussion at the meeting.
A few months ago a resident called the city and asked if he could purchase a property it had acquired due to a tax forfeiture years (12?) ago. At the next council meeting staff brought this up and the following points were laid out:
- In order to sell the property the city would have to pay the property value to the county to change the forfeit status.
- State statute does not allow a municipality to profit on the sale of a tax forfeit property (I understand the intent, I don't understand how it's enforceable).
- The individual asking about the property made it clear his intent was to implement the land use defined by previous councils specified in the current and previous comp plan (mixed Use - residential) and that he owned an adjoining property necessary to implement the comp plan use. This was an important point since any other use would have to amend the comprehensive plan.
- To date, all of the tax forfeit properties the city has sold were handled this way (3 to my knowledge, and all on Balsam).
- Handling this through a bidding process could get fairly expensive (though no numbers were known). This was in response to a council member asking if it should go through a bidding process.
At that time the council agreed to have staff start the process of getting the value and coming up with a plan to proceed. Any action on the property would still have to be presented to the council for a vote.
I was very vocal with regards to 2 of those properties on Balsam (I wasn't aware of the 3rd) in that I believed they should have been put up for bid due to their value and due to a number of parties that showed interest. But, this property isn't anywhere near as valuable as those are and staff believed this was the only inquiry up to this time.
Since that meeting, staff has received phone calls asking if the property was for sale and that they were interested in buying it.
So... at this point in the meeting I brought up the topic and suggested a few things:
- Allow the EDA to handle the property since residential redevelopment is in their charter.
- Have the EDA suggest the proper zoning prior to selling the property.
- Have staff and the EDA determine the process to use going forward (given it's clear we don't have one).
Regardless of the EDA determination, it would still go before the planning commission and ultimately be voted on by the council.
That prompted a council member to ask why we would have the EDA handle it rather than just sell it to the individual. Their explanation was that it may end up costing the city much more with the same result since the individual is likely the only party that can implement what's requested by the comp plan (he owns the adjoining property).
A few council members then started to ask what the real intent was behind the EDA, which resulted in an agreement to have a work session on what it is we want out of our EDA.
So... the end result was instruction to staff to determine what the process is to put the property up for bids. And another work session....
Item I (Tax Levy Discussion)
This was a discussion on where the current tax levy numbers are at. It is VERY likely this will be the final number. There was some discussion on one of the items on the long term plan that a majority of the council isn't too happy with (for a number of reasons) and I brought up the point that I really think it's the council's responsibility to update the long term plan including both adding or moving items.
This is fairly complicated, but the bottom line is the total levy will go up by 7.35% BUT due to the amount of new housing, will result in almost every house having a significant reduction in the city portion of their tax bill.
Things to keep in mind:
- The average tax levy increase over the previous 4 years was 13.9% and if you include the franchise tax (why wouldn't you?) it was 15.7%.
- Last year's tax levy increase was 10.5% (an improvement) but included gutting of the pavement fund levy (reducing it from $800k to $200k) which I believe was clearly done for election purposes.
- We RESTORED the amount going towards pavement (isn't that one of a city's primary purposes?) to $800k.
- Another messy bit... The city's communicated tax rate differed from what the state used to determine your taxes. When I looked into this I realized the city was incorrectly ignoring the EDA levy in the calculation. That may explain why there was such a push to max out the EDA levy in previous years...
- The corrected tax rate we started with was 52.7%. The rate we will be at if this number holds is 48.5%.
While our tax rate as compared to surrounding communities is still extremely high, correcting this while continuing to provide necessary government services will continue to take dedication by at least 3 of your council members.
Item J (EDA appointment)
Given the earlier discussion on the EDA, this was tabled.
Item K (Suspending City Water Meter Ordinance)
As many of you have noticed, the supply chain problems are getting worse. In this case it's impacting water meter availability. So... the ordinance change will allow a home owner to occupy a new house without a meter and will bill the owner assuming an average water usage during the winter months. If the shortage goes into the spring, we will likely have to revisit this.
Item L (Engineering Costs Associated with Dayton Parkway North of 81)
This will allow engineering work to start on road improvements necessary to get the parkway to the north side of 81. For a number of reasons this will NOT assume a full parkway to the possible Cubes development (feel free to contact me for that explanation) and will fund the engineering work needed.
Feel free to contact me regarding any questions.