Archive for Wednesday, September 6, 2000

City plans to consider changing assessments

September 6, 2000

It appears that a dispute between the city and downtown property owners soon could be solved.

A group of downtown Tonganoxie property owners has been upset in recent weeks over assessments made by the city for the recently completed downtown renovation project. The owners were unhappy about the length of time they had to pay the assessments and the amount of the assessments.

In fact, they met with an attorney Tuesday morning.

"We're going to talk with the city to see if we can do this without having to take any legal action," Roger Shilling of Shilling Electric, said after the meeting.

But Tonganoxie's city administrator said later Tuesday that he's obtained new information that may soothe the rift between the city and the property owners.

Christopher Clark, city administrator, said he plans to talk with city council members Monday night about the new developments. On Thursday, the city engineer talked with Chris Eppley, Tonganoxie's former city administrator, who spearheaded the renovation project.

"He has changed what he has told us previously," Clark said. "He has indicated there may have been some mistakes made in the calculations."

The property owners' portion of the project for such improvements as sidewalks and street lamps should be about one-third lower than the amount property owners were assessed.

"Basically, it's going to take an estimated $300,000 cost and move it down to about $210,000," Clark said. "It's going to be about a $90,000 savings."

In addition, Clark said, Eppley remembered that he had told property owners the city would hold an election among the owners to determine how many years they wanted to pay the assessments. And Clark talked with an attorney for the company that is handling the bonds to finance the project who told him that the property owners do not have the follow the city's 10-year payback plan.

"It does not have to be the same amount of time," Clark said. "I had been misinformed at the last meeting."

Clark said he and the city council have been operating with incomplete information.

"He never told us," he said, referring to earlier conversations with Eppley.

"We don't know unless we're told. He did have a revelation during his last conversation with the city engineer, and he recalled the election and he recalled the amenities portion of the package should be split between the property owners and the city."

Clark said it's unfortunate property owners and the city have been at odds over this issue.

"It certainly is my goal to work with the people in the city and not be in an adversarial relationship at all," he said.

Shilling said he's pleased about the recent turn of events.

"I'm tickled to death," he said. "I knew there was a miscarriage of justice here."

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