Hobart objects to county ending first payment property tax collection
By Kevin Boneske
HOBART – Word of Brown County planning on discontinuing first payment collections of property taxes and turning that responsibility over to municipalities isn’t sitting well with the village board.
The board postponed a vote Wednesday, Feb. 17, on a tax bill preparation agreement, in which the county would prepare the tax bills and mail them out, but no longer collect the first installment.
Under the agreement, the village would collect both real property taxes, including special charges and special assessments, and personal property taxes as spelled out in state law.
“State law says that we have to do,” said Hobart Clerk-Treasurer Erica Berger. “(The county was) doing it, and it was a luxury… (Under a provision in the agreement), the county shall not provide first installment property tax collection services.”
However, for property owners making two payments, the agreement also states the county would collect the second installment as well as delinquent real property taxes.
Village Administrator Aaron Kramer said a resolution will be on the next meeting agenda March 2 expressing the board’s opposition to the change.
Board members said they hope the county will continue to collect the first payments for one more year.
“We’re looking for one-year grace period,” said Village President Rich Heidel. “Just allow us to budget for it.”
Kramer said the agreement has a March deadline, so the board could postpone action for a second time.
“I would prepare to do it March 2, at our next board meeting, because by then we would have the resolution,” Heidel said.
In other action, the board approved a second amendment to a tower space lease with Nsightell Wireless, LLC, doing business as Cellcom.
Under this amendment, Kramer said the lease, originally agreed to in 2001, will automatically renew for an additional two successive terms of five years to cover the equipment on the Thornberry Creek water tower.
“Our revenue, I think the last time I looked, is around $22,000 a year,” he said.
As part of the agreement, Berger said village is also getting a discounted rate on cell service.
“The credit that we’re receiving is to the tune of $973 a month,” she said.
The board adopted a new policy to establish customer rates for Hobart’s sanitary sewer utility.
Kramer said the policy will ensure the utility’s financial solvency and provide for adequate liquidity and cash reserves to meet day-to-day operations and long-term needs.
He said the new policy expands on previous rate determination formulas to more accurately determine what the sewer rate needs to be.
In the past, he said the village’s auditors and financial consultants have strongly encouraged the establishment of this policy to ensure financial solvency of Hobart’s sewer utility.
Kramer said the new policy sets the stage for a public hearing at the March 2 board meeting, where a 9 percent increase in the sewer rates will be considered.
Certified survey map
The board approved a certified survey map (CSM) dividing a 28.704-acre parcel into two separate lots at 1850 County Line Rd.
The CSM creates a new 5.5-acre lot to detach the existing dwelling and other buildings from the remaining agricultural land.
With both lots remaining more than 5 acres, Director of Planning and Code Compliance Todd Gerbers said no rezoning is required, with none proposed at this time.
Gerbers said the 5.5-acre lot will remain under the same ownership, while the remaining 23.204 acres could potentially be sold at a future date.
Board members approved the first amendment to an agreement to provide service to the Hemlock Creek fifth addition subdivision, which relates to the Town of Lawrence selling wholesale water to Hobart for the village’s section of the subdivision.
Kramer said this amendment was done at the request of the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin over concerns about potential non-revenue water flowing in the mains as a result of possible leaks or faulty meters in the Hobart section of the subdivision.