Change in state law needed for special assessment districts

  • Wednesday, April 24, 2013 5:31pm
  • News

Although I can accept the end result of the natural gas Special Assesment District, or SAD, the mechanism for approving such proposals strikes me as rather high-handed and fundamentally unfair. Once the process is in motion the entire burden for terminating the proposal falls upon those in opposition. Any failure by these people to participate in the administrative ballot process, through a “no” vote, paradoxically converts their potential “no” into an active “yes, I do want the SAD.”

I did some research, recently, intending to propose a SAD change to Homer City Code requiring that, in the future, those affected must actively vote for or against the SAD proposal. If a majority of actual votes do not support implementing the SAD, then it fails, just as happens when we elect representatives at the city, state and federal level. This prevents imposition of significant monetary costs upon a potential majority who, for various reasons, have failed or neglected to actively vote in opposition.

During my research I discovered that the city SAD ordinance closely parallels state statutes. Therefore a SAD ordinance change will require changing state law. I propose to suggest this change to the next Legislature.

Why is SAD change important? Because more potential SADs are being considered, such as Lillian Walli Estates. Developing city infrastructure to the lots will be very expensive, and those not fully alert to the process could find themselves unexpectedly burdened with heavy assessments. Such actions create resentment and controversy within the body politic. It’s not a healthy model for dispute resolution.

Larry Slone

 

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