Port council reduces project-related charges for five city landowners, eliminates fees for town properties
Port Washington aldermen on Tuesday reduced the assessments charged to five city property owners and agreed to eliminate the assessments charged to town properties to pay for improvements made to highways 33 and LL.
The agreement settles a lawsuit filed a year ago by 11 property owners who argued that the assessments were unreasonable, saying their properties have not been “specially or reasonably benefitted” by the improvements to the roadways.
City Administrator Mark Grams said Monday that officials have been negotiating the settlement for several months in an attempt to avoid a trial.
Even though the city may recoup less money for the road work, he said, “you would end up spending more in legal fees” in a trial.
Grams said the city is accepting a total of $9,953 less from the city property owners, in part as a recognition that the state paid less of the Highway 33 project than a typical highway project.
While the state paid about 80% of the cost for Highway 33, he said, it paid more than 90% of the cost for Highway 32 when it was rebuilt.
“We decided to take that into account,” Grams said.
The city agreed to change the amount charged for the street work only, Grams said, not the amount charged for sidewalks, curb and gutter.
The assessments for town property were dropped, Grams said, after the city looked at how other communities handle these charges.
“Most other cities don’t put town charges on the final (assessment) resolution,” he said, while Port has traditionally assessed these properties but not collected the funds until the parcels were annexed.
City officials agreed to eliminate the assessments, Grams said, but he noted that “That’s not to say the city won’t get the money eventually.”
When these property owners seek annexation, officials will seek to collect the assessment amounts, Grams said.
“Then it’s more of a negotiation when the property owner wants to annex into the city,” he said. “You end up negotiating with them when they annex anyway.”
It’s not likely officials will forgive the assessment when the properties come into the city, Grams said.
“I guarantee that won’t happen,” he said, although negotiations then could reduce or increase the amount.
The town properties removed in the settlement are Christopher and Linda Witzlib, 1651 Willow Dr., whose assessment was $40,282; Stevlins LLC, 2440 Hwy. 33, $13,932; Raymond Last, 2364 Hwy. 33, $11,298; and Steven and Julie Boyea, 2498 Hwy. 33, $4,482.
The assessments that were reduced include Bielinski Commercial LLC of Pewaukee, whose previous assessment of $17,368 was reduced by $4,042 to $13,326; Bielinski Homes Inc. of Pewaukee, whose previous assessment of $10,544 was reduced by $2,434 to $8,111; Made Investments LLC of Port Washington, whose previous assessment of $7,532 was reduced by $1,739 to $5,794; Nicholas S. Meier, 402 N. Heritage Rd., whose previous assessment of $4,921 was reduced by $869 to $4,052; and Schmidt Farm Property LLC of Cedarburg, whose previous assessment of $4,921 was trimmed by $869 to $4,052.