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City Council approves property tax adjustment

The newly elected New Richmond City Council aldermen were sworn in during a meeting April 19.

There was no change in the make-up of the council, however, as all three that were elected April 5 are incumbents.

Kirk Van Blaircom, Roberta Dale-Wozniak and Craig Kittel took the oath of office.

Earlier in the meeting:

• The council approved a motion to refund homeowner Richard Haffner, 242 S. Montana Ave., a portion of his 2010 property taxes.

Haffner, who was serving in Iraq when last year's tax assessments were mailed out, said his mail was being piled at the local post office for months and thus he never knew that the assessed value of his home had increased dramatically.

"I had a little trouble with the mail," he told the council.

As a result, Haffner said he wasn't able to follow established procedures to have his home value changed. He missed the Open Book meeting in the fall and the subsequent Board of Review hearings.

Had he been around, and had he received his assessment notice, Haffner said he would have appealed back then.

The assessment for the home was $215,900. Haffner asked that his valuation be dropped to about $170,000, which he claimed was more in line with other homes of similar size in the city.

Alderman Jane Hansen questioned whether the city should allow the valuation change after the fact.

"I'm not settled with going backwards," she said.

But Mayor Fred Horne said it made sense to make an exception.

"He was in Iraq," he said. "He was completely unaware that there was an issue."

Alderman Ron Volkert agreed that the circumstances warranted a review by the council.

"He should be given some consideration for that," Volkert said.

Alderman Jim Zajkowski suggested that the council "split the difference" and base Haffner's taxes on a value of $199,900.

"We're dropping it $20,000," said Zajkowski. "That's pretty significant right there. I think that's fair."

Zajkowski said that Haffner could then go to this year's Open Book meeting to attempt to reduce his home's valuation through proper channels.

The council voted unanimously in favor of the plan.

• The council had a moment of silence in honor of Mike Geraghty, long-time street department employee who died from an accidental gunshot wound.

For the complete story, see this week's New Richmond News.