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City takes over condemned property

Clintonville must pay back taxes

By Bert Lehman

The city of Clintonville plans to take ownership of two properties in order to raze a condemned building.

First, the city must pay two years of back taxes on an 11th Street property, as well as the 2016 property taxes on that parcel and a second parcel.

Clintonville City Attorney Keith Steckbauer told the Street Committee at its Sept. 6 meeting that condemnation has already been started on the 11th Street properties.

A prior council and the property owners had agreed to allow the city to take over the properties, condemn them and have Waupaca County waive the property taxes.

“However it is my understanding from talking with the county that there actually were no discussions had by a prior council with the county,” Steckbauer said.

Realizing the city had not communicated with the county about this in the past, Steckbauer presented the above scenario to the county.

He said a problem arose because of one of the parcels has back taxes owed on it as well as some judgments. That parcel is owned by Joseph Larson.

The other parcel in question is owned by James and Gloria Krause. That piece of property is current on its property taxes.

Steckbauer told the committee that the county is willing to wipe out the judgments it has on Larson’s property, but it was not willing to forgive all the past due property taxes. The county asked the city to pay the property taxes for 2010 and 2015 for a total of $5,316. The county also asked the city to pay the 2016 property taxes for both parcels. That amount isn’t known yet.

“The real question is, are we willing to do this?” Steckbauer asked the committee. “I don’t think we have much of an option.”

He said he thinks the county is implying the city of Clintonville knew the properties were not worth much and the city should have reassessed them and reduced their values.

“It’s more money than you’d like, but it gets the building down without a raze-order contested trial,” Steckbauer said. “It should have been dealt with beforehand, but it wasn’t.”

Steckbauer reminded the committee that the county does not have to work with the city at all.

Clintonville City Administrator Chuck Kell added that the recent trend is the county will just sit on the property and not take the building back themselves.

“They don’t want these buildings,” Kell said. “That’s why we’ve had to take down some homes in town.”

He added that the 11th Street properties in question, which have been condemned, will be left to sit by the county and nothing will happen to it.

Committee Chairwoman Julie Stumbris said one of her constituents asked her why the city is responsible for these costs.

“This county particularly does not do tax foreclosures,” Steckbauer said.

Committee member Jim Supanich asked if the city has the funds to cover the property taxes the county is asking it to pay.

Kell said in the 2016-17 borrowed funds, there is money set aside for this project.

“I think we need to go ahead and authorize it,” Supanich said. “I don’t think we have any other course of action at this point. That building has to come down.”

The committee approved recommending to council to pay the back property taxes from 2010 and 2015 for one of the properties and the 2016 property tax for both of the properties, and to take ownership of both properties from the property owners.

The issue went before the entire council Tuesday, Sept. 13.

Steckbauer informed the council that he had corresponded with Waupaca County since the Street Committee meeting and didn’t see any reason why the county wouldn’t accept the proposed solution being discussed.

After the county clears the back property taxes and judgments, a judgment of $1,700 by ThedaCare will remain on the Larson property, Steckbauer said. He added that Larson will sign paperwork allowing Steckbauer to work with the creditor to negotiate a solution for that judgment. That judgment is nine years old and set to expire after 10 years if it is not renewed.

After Steckbauer explained the proposed deal, Kell addressed the council on how the city needs to handle situations like this in the future.

“I think we learned something with this particular project that would bode well for the city in the future,” Kell said. “When we have structures that are deteriorating and that we issue condemnation orders on, we need to get quickly with our assessor at that point and have them look at the value of that building. [For] this building, the value was not brought down to reflect the fact it wasn’t inhabitable anymore and that’s why the taxes are still high on the county level that we have to pay off now.”

Public Works director
Kell informed the council that the city received nine applicants for the Public Works director position that was vacated by Toby Kersten. He said four or five of the candidates will be interviewed.

He expected the interviews to take place the last week of September.

Greentree development
The Greentree development is still alive, Kell told the council. He added that there is still a lot of work to be completed, but the developers are interested in starting the development next year.

“It will involve a significant amount of duplex development on the site and the assisted living project,” Kell said.

Kell said it would involve around 28 duplex units and 24 assisted living units.

As of the council meeting, the city did not have a development agreement with the developers of the project.

“I think that will be one of the most major residential developments that you will have seen in a number of years if we can get this off the ground,” Kell said. “It will be important for increasing the value of the community.”

Wastewater treatment plan
The city is ready to start the bid process for the wastewater treatment plant construction. If everything goes as planned, the council will approve the winning bid in October.

North Central Airlines DC-3
Kell told the council he has been in contact with Jon Helminiak, executive director of the Aviation Heritage Center in Sheboygan Falls, about the DC-3 the Heritage Center has purchased, and that the city has paid for its naming rights. The DC-3 is in California, where it will be painted and stay for the winter. It will be flown to Wisconsin in spring.

Kell said the Heritage Center is planning a tour to all of the communities that hosted North Central Airlines.
“They’d like to start that tour with a stop here at our airport in Clintonville,” Kell said.

Kell said tentative plans call for the tours to take place in late July and go through Labor Day. He recommended the city create a committee to plan events around when the DC-3 comes to Clintonville.

There will be a cost to bring the DC-3 to Clintonville, as it costs $1,200 an hour to fly the aircraft, Kell said.

However, Kell said Helminiak said the city will not have to pay that much.

“It’s great that they’re going to use Clintonville as the jump-off for this,” Kell said. “Hopefully the community will take advantage of that and it will be a really neat event.”

Worth the Drive
Kell informed the council that Clintonville will be one of the featured cities in the upcoming Fox Cities Magazine – Worth the Drive. He said he tried unsuccessfully to get Clintonville in the magazine last year, but kept pushing to get Clintonville in the magazine.

The magazine comes out once a year, and features communities in Northeast Wisconsin. It is placed in hotels in the region, as well as many of the offices of large corporations.

“I think it’s great that we’re able to get Clintonville in there,” Kell said.

Other business
The council approved having Kell contact garbage and recycling haulers for bids to have one company pick-up garbage and recyclables from city residents. The bids will be non-binding.

After meeting in closed session, the council directed Steckbauer to continue to protect the interests of the city in regards to the Ninth Street sidewalk issue.

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