Lacking foresight

Published 10:13 am Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Austin City Council has recently shown a lack of foresight concerning the Lansing sewer project controversy, and the upcoming guessing games concerning the reassessment process will likely cost taxpayers more money before everything is settled.

The council voted Monday night to reassess 33 former Lansing Township properties whose owners are about to or had already appealed a $15,000-per-lot assessment in court. While the council is to be commended for attempting to head off another court case which they would likely lose, it is galling to know the city had not taken into account all 209.5 parcels which were annexed into the city of Austin in 2009.

One member of the audience at the meeting told the council he would sue the city if only a few properties are reassessed, and he has a point: It makes no sense for many owners to continue paying thousands of dollars when some of their neighbors are successfully overturning their assessments.

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Now the city will hire a new appraiser to reappraise the 33 properties, but they’ll have to use a new appraisal method, as Mower County District Judge Donald Rysavy ruled the previous method to be inferior, writing in his ruling the city’s method made no sense.

City officials may wait to see whether the reassessments will help pay off the sewer project, but they should have taken all of the properties under this sewer project into account before moving forward. Those same city officials are right in trying to prevent burdening the rest of Austin with assessment costs, but without planning it’s just a gesture. Instead of guessing how to proceed based on the reappraisals, it would have been nice if the council, and the city at large, was proactive in resolving the issue.