Echo Township Meeting
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Bill Derenzy called the meeting to order. He introduced the new county commissioner
Unfinished Business – Six Mile Lake Association
Cherie Hogan asked the question to Bill Derenzy and the board. If you had 100 ft. of sandy beach or 100 ft. of swampy beach would the tax assessment be the same. They could not answer the question because they did not know.
Cherie said all the hard work the Milfoil Committee did sending out letters to all lake owners in both townships, plus sending out all the petitions on number of parcels and land mass. We want the assessment to be per parcel assessment $200.00 and this to show in the township records. Everyone on the lake whether you have 29 feet or 1,029 feet knows the assessment will be the same for everyone $200.00. We made sure when we approached the township board we had all the signed petitions we needed. That our work was done.
Attorney Brian Graham says it should be per foot. Bill Derenzy said that both townships want the assessment to be by foot.
Cherie said we want you to follow through with what we want the assessment to be by parcel and not by foot. Because that is what the Six Mile Lake Association agreed to.
Bill said, that we will have a chance to speak at the public hearings. We can’t move on any of this right now.
We have 2 requirements that need to be met before the townships can go forward.
1. We must show that we are a legal organization, recognized by the government.
2. The assessment must be decided by parcel or by foot. Six Mile Lake Association has agreed to by parcel.
It seems that the board just keeps on throwing up more road blocks. Bill said that legal council tells us what we can and cannot do. They based this footage on $60,000.00 from what we said it would take. Using a ball park figure by foot Bill said it would cost around $1.60 per foot. We said we had legal council represent us an environmental and reparian attorney. It was like everything we said was wrong by our legal council.
Cherie said I don’t understand Mr. Graham is working on 2 other lakes getting assessments by parcel.
Minutes respectfully submitted by Carol Kupovits
After Echo Township’s meeting last night Supervisor Bill Derenzy and Cherie Hogan spent about an hour and a half discussing the legal procedures that will take place in the future regarding the Special Assessment District and how it will (most likely) affect the property owners of Six Mile Lake in the future. Please remember…nothing has been decided yet.
The reason for the per front foot assessment vs. per parcel assessment is the Township Attorney Bryan Graham’s belief that the per parcel assessment would not stand if one or more disgruntled tax-payers decided to protest the assessment to the State of Michigan Tax Tribunal. Bill stated that each time a protest is made Bryan Graham has to travel to Lansing representing the Township which is an additional expense to the tax-payers. The consensus from both Townships is to set up the special assessment the same as the regular tax assessments are set up to avoid any future challenges. As Bill stated “The goal of Echo Township is get something passed that will stand up to any legal challenges and that everyone can live with.”
He was also asked he would consider changing his mind if PLM, who manages many of these special assessment districts, proved that other districts were set up on a per parcel basis, without controversy or legal challenges, and he said he would consider it. So, obviously, we need to contact PLM to see if they can provide the Townships with this data. Otherwise they are going to proceed on a per front foot basis for the above stated reasons.
So here is a synopsis of how this process will proceed according to Bill;
1) Letters will be sent out to all affected property owners and a notice will be put in the papers 10 days prior to the public hearings. It is very important that we make sure our voices are heard because if either Township feels that there is more negative support than positive support the District will not go forward. If one Township refuses to go forward, the other will follow suit. It’s either all or nothing. He also said that written letters will be accepted and that the address will be on the special assessment notice and that is where the letters need to be sent to. At the beginning of the meeting property owners wishing to speak will have to sign up to do so at which time they will be allowed to speak for a designated period of time. No public back and forth will be allowed. Attendees will be speaking to both Township Boards, both Township Assessors, and probably Bryan Graham.
Right now the Township Assessors have a figure of about $1.60 per front foot with less desirable frontage figured at a lower rate but nothing is set in stone yet. The monies raised will total $60,000 per year. The front foot will be based on the legal description on your tax bill. He already has had calls from property owners, who over time, have acquired extra lake frontage due to shoreline movement who have asked if the Township Assessor will be out to re-measure and the answer is no. They may look at property that has less desirable frontage in order to get a better idea of the front foot value for the special assessment, but, again…nothing is set in stone. However, the Townships’ strategy will be presented to property owners at the first public hearing where, hopefully, things will become a little clearer for everyone.
2) Should the Townships feel that there is appropriate support for the Assessment to go forward there will be a second public hearing scheduled with all the same notices going out as before. The time frame for the second hearing will be determined by how fast the two Townships can finalize the District and the how much the final assessment amounts will be. The Townships have figured that the Special Assessment should be in place for the summer tax bill.
I hope this clears up why the Townships feel as they do. The belief is that they are interested in seeing this through to a satisfactory conclusion with as little controversy as possible. Bill said that at first he was against it because he thought the SMLA expected the Township to pay for the eradication of the milfoil and they just didn’t have the funds, but, he said he is on-board with the Special Assessment District and understands that this is a critical situation and the Townships are moving legally as fast as they can.
The legal entity status of the Six Mile Lake Association is important in that a resolution to proceed with the Special Assessment District will have to be passed before the public hearings will go forward. The legal entity status will also enable the Townships to present invoices to us. Also, Bill wondered why PLM has not been attending Township meetings so we need to make sure they are in attendance at future Township meetings to answer questions. We will also want them for the public hearings.
I hope this clears up most of the questions our members may have and better explain the procedures that will need to be undertaken in the future.