City agrees to reduced assessments
The amount that downtown property owners will pay for the recent Fourth Street redevelopment project just got smaller.
Monday night, Tonganoxie City Council members agreed to decrease the property owners' share by nearly $100,000 to $200,000. For several weeks, downtown property owners have been upset with the city's assessment against them for the project. The owners have said that the assessment is not what they had agreed to and that the city was giving them too little time to pay the assessment.
Now that the owners will pay about $200,000 toward the project, the city as a whole will fund about $423,600. The remainder of the funds for the $1 million project will come from a federal grant.
During the last several days, City Administrator Chris Clark and a group of downtown property owners have been in negotiations, in an attempt to settle the dispute. Clark and the property owners agreed last Friday to the $200,000 assessment.
Clark said Monday night: "$200,000 sounded fair to all the parties."
The city council also agreed that property owners could determine through a vote the length of time they'll have to pay their share of the project costs.
Council members and the mayor said they were unaware of promises made by Chris Eppley, former city administrator, when they voted last month for a 10-year bond payoff.
"If commitments are made, they need to be lived up to," council member Dave Hernandez said.
Kathy Graveman, council member, said she was embarrassed about the problem, calling it "totally unacceptable."
"I do agree with you," Mayor John Franiuk said.
Franiuk said he appreciated property owners' understanding and the chance to rectify the problem.
A public hearing is scheduled for Sept. 25 regarding the assessments, and the city will mail ballots to property owners so they can vote on the duration of the payback.