Property owners question new assessments
HOLIDAY ISLAND -- Public comments took up the largest part of the Holiday Island Board of Commissioners work session Monday as three property owners made lengthy presentations on the recent Assessment of Benefits (AOB) process and timeshare fees.
Tony Germani passed out handouts signed by himself and five other property owners questioning the process used by assessor Tom Reed.
He said Reed made "a series of confusing calculations" to come up with a figure of $5,000 being added to the assessed value of an improved lot, with no explanation.
Germani said the suggested levy of 5 percent of the assessed benefits asks property owners to pay for infrastructure already paid for over the years.
"The only debt we have is the wastewater treatment plant," he said.
He asked other questions about how the AOB differentiates between improved and vacant lots, the 40.9 percent increase in levy on improved lots and the 13.3 percent decrease on vacant lots.
"The board continues to focus on raising the tax burden on resident property owners by raising assessments and amenity charges as means of increasing revenue each year," German said. "There appears to be little interest in generating outside income."
Kathleen Bischoff also gave handouts questioning the AOB process. She was a real estate agent and a county employee in Wisconsin who worked with assessors in listing property in the county books.
"I witnessed penalties on assessors who did these incorrectly, even though unintentionally," she warned.
Her husband, Dave Bischoff, expressed concerns about Table Rock Landing time shares and the developer not paying their fair share of assessments. He suggested a return to 10 times the regular assessment rate on the time shares, and also apply it to all those who rent out their homes on a nightly basis.
As for assessments being waived on inventory, foreclosed and quit-claimed lots the developer holds, Bischoff said, "It would appear these are not validly exempt as per the state," he said. "We need to find out if this is legal or if this is just sitting there as a time bomb. That's $400,000 that hasn't been paid."
In its discussion of the final pass 2012 budget, District Manager Kevin Crosson said the income figure, based on the advice of the auditor, now shows assessments from all 5,100 lots, and any known or anticipated uncollectible assessments are shown as an expense.
The income figure is based on an assessment levy of 5 percent of the assessment of benefits for each lot. Crosson said each tenth of a percent generates $37,500. He is recommending an increase above the 5 percent sufficient to add an emergency contingency, additional capital improvements and a cost-of-living adjustment for employees.
Adjustments made to the budget now show a projected net $16,000 profit next year, with income budgeted at $4.27 million against operating expenses of $3.5 million and capital expenditures of $754,000.
Commissioner Gary Hanson suggested the assessment levy be decided by the new board coming in after the December election.
"If we set that assessment, we tie the hands of the next board," he said.
Other commissioners disagreed.
"It takes a lot of study to understand the budget, and I don't think it's fair to throw this on the new board," said Linda Griswold.
The board will hold its business meeting Monday, Nov. 28, at 9 a.m. at the district office at 110 Woodsdale Drive.
It is expected to vote on the assessment levy, the final 2012 budget, the revised amenity fees and the sale of a foreclosed lot with a house on it.