Village to review policy on special assessments
Board debates charges for Kozy Korners development
By Kevin Boneske
HOWARD – The Howard village board conducted a public hearing Monday, April 23, when a residential property owner objected to more than $20,000 worth of special assessments planned for his corner lot.
George Hoell lives next to where 32 single-family residential lots are planned as part of the Kozy Korners development.
Hoell, who was also represented at the meeting by his attorney, Matthew Stock, said there would be no benefit for him to have to connect to the municipal water and sewer service with his lot at Evergreen Avenue and Coral Reef Lane.
“Most of the houses have wells out by me, and that’s what I’m fighting for, to keep what I have,” Hoell said. “I have perfectly good water. It costs me very little per month. Why would I want to spend $100 a month for water? Why would I want to pay to hook up water and sewer?”
Hoell said it isn’t fair that his neighbors won’t have to hook up to municipal sewer and water when he would because of the new development.
“That’s what I’m pointing out that this isn’t fair,” he said. “It’s all through the developers for the benefit of the developers and the village, not the residents.”
The special assessments called for on Hoell’s property amount to more than 10 percent of the lot’s total assessed value listed by the Brown County treasurer at $169,100.
The $20,234.67 in total special assessment charges for Hoell’s lot include $5,675.79 for sanitary sewer, $2,031.78 for the water main, $5,296.51 for storm sewer and $7,230.59 for roadway.
Though the development’s overall special assessments, which total more than $1.26 million, were found by village attorney Bob Gagan to be in line with Howard’s special assessment policy, some board members favored changing that policy because of its impact on Hoell.
“The assessment policy actually allows us to change things,” said Trustee Craig McAllister, who called the current policy “a pain.”
“I can see some fairness in areas, and I can see some great unfairness in others,” McAllister said. “The only thing that I can think of is that we have to actually have – there has to be a basis of value. If we’re charging a monetary value to something, then there needs to be a monetary gain. That’s in my eyes the way to create a fair assessment policy.”
McAllister said the lot owned by George and Lori Hoell is being charged special assessments while at the same time devaluing their property.
“For that, I see a grave, grave injustice with that,” he said.
Trustee Adam Lemorande also took issue with property valued at less than $200,000 having special assessments of more than 10 percent on top of that.
“I think we have to take a step back and say, ‘Are we doing this the correct way?’” Lemorande said. “I know that’s how it’s always been done. I’ve only been on the board for three years, but something doesn’t sound right here.”
Village President Burt McIntyre cautioned board members to be consistent in how they apply policy on special assessments.
“If you start making exceptions, and I think we all sympathize in these cases, but that’s why I was very careful when I said, ‘Are you suggesting that we review the policy and maybe come back to this in terms of what assessment would be levied against Mr. Hoell?” McIntyre said. “I don’t even know if we could do that.”
In the end, board members unanimously agreed to approve the special assessments as presented on Coral Reef Lane and the plat for Kozy Korners with the condition the board will convene a committee to review the special assessment policy, and if the policy favors Hoell, a credit will be issued to him.