Archived Story

Council to vote on Lansing ruling

Published 2:40pm Sunday, March 31, 2013

The city of Austin will likely follow Mower County District Judge Donald Rysavy’s ruling concerning assessments in favor of three property owners who own land in what used to be Lansing Township.

The Austin City Council is expected to set aside its assessments on land owned by former state Sen. John Howe, R-Red Wing, Robert and Suzzane Allen, and MeShetnaglee and his mother, Kathy ScabbyRobeParnett, after the owners successfully appealed a $15,000 assessment to each of their lots last month.

The council will then schedule a reassessment for each of those properties at its next public meeting starting at 5:30 p.m. Monday.

The owners argued the city couldn’t properly show their properties would benefit by the amount assessed, and Rysavy concurred.

Under state law, a city or municipality can’t assess a property for an infrastructure project by more than what the land would benefit. Rysavy wrote it was unreasonable for the city to levy those assessments when the property owners showed their land value had steadily decreased since 2009, among other things.

In addition, Rysavy criticized the city for failing to give enough information on the assessment process, as well as for allowing a property appraisal that used an inferior appraisal method, didn’t take into account local land values, and in some cases assessed more than what the property was worth.

The city’s appraisal was “so unreliable as to provide virtually no indication as to the amount of the special benefit to the property,” Rysavy wrote.

The council discussed its options with city attorney David Hoversten in a closed meeting two weeks ago, and city officials said it was unlikely the city would appeal Rysavy’s decision.

Council members will also finalize its Coffee with the Council rules and vote on resolutions to support Local Government Aid reform and Mayo Clinic’s Destination Medical Center plan, which could bring up to 45,000 jobs to southeastern Minnesota over the next 20 years.

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