April 16, 2014

Washburn City Commission meeting spurs heated debate


City assessments continued to be the major area of discussion at the Washburn City Board of Equalization meeting. The half-hour session took place prior to the city commission meeting on Monday night, with about 30 concerned citizens in attendance.

Ryan Oberg, a Vanguard appraiser, opened the floor up to the public to discuss broad assessment topics. Although he wasn’t interested in hearing each individual property case at this public meeting; he encouraged property holders to make an appointment with him to discuss their assessments with him one-on-one.

Ray Hager, former commissioner, was the first to make his voice heard. He said, "My property was assessed at a dollar per square foot. For my size lot, that’s high." In comparing Washburn to surrounding communities, he said, "Garisson, about four years ago, was over 1 million dollars less assessed. Why does Washburn have to be assessed the most of any city in McLean County? Someplace it has to stop....this constant 10 percent, year after year."

Oberg said, "We don’t tell people what to pay for property, we have to bring property up to match the sales. If we had to look at every house (in detail) in the county every year, there would need to be 100 of me."

Tom Link, was next on the list to speak. He said, "I’d like to protest the increase on two of my properties." Oberg gave him his card and requested that he make an appointment to discuss the properties in private.

Link described a time when the properties were assessed at close to three hundred percent. He said, "Things can get a hell of a lot worse, Ray (Hager)." Link commended Hager for bringing up a good point and added, "Most of these people are concerned about taxes."

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