Ris­ing Sun res­i­dent seeks prop­erty tax re­lief

Cecil Whig - - WE ATHE R - By JANE BELLMYER

jbellmyer@ce­cil­whig.com

— An­other town res­i­dent has come for­ward seek­ing re­lief from re­cent leg­is­la­tion passed by the mayor and com­mis­sion­ers that has had un­in­tended con­se­quences for some prop­erty own­ers.

Arthur John­son came to the Ris­ing Sun town meet­ing on Tues­day to bring to the board’s at­ten­tion his 15.5 acre tract off North Wal­nut Street, which Com­mis­sioner David War­nick ad­mit­ted is a “swamp.”

But while the prop­erty can­not be de­vel­oped, John­son re­ceived his prop­erty tax bill in July with an ad­di­tional $384 tacked onto it. While John­son lives just out­side town lim­its, the par­cel in ques­tion is in­side the bound­aries.

That ex­tra $384 is the re­sult of Ris­ing Sun’s deci-

RIS­ING SUN

sion to take debt ser­vice and trash col­lec­tion off the monthly util­ity bills and in­stead tack it onto the prop­erty tax bills. The move al­lows prop­erty own­ers to claim a larger de­duc­tion but it has re­sulted in tax­ing small tracts more than the mar­ket value.

Since the dis­cov­ery of the tax glitch, War­nick has stud­ied the tax rolls and found dozens of in­signif­i­cant prop­er­ties — some as small as 56 square feet — that can­not be de­vel­oped but are be­ing hit with the tax. He said many of these hail back to the ori­gins of the town more than 100 years ago.

“It’s the re­sult of old sur­vey meth­ods and legacy lot lines. It’s an ar­ti­fact of our his­tory,” War­nick ex­plained.

While John­son’s land is large enough for de­vel­op­ment, it’s use­less by his own ad­mis­sion. Lo­cated along North Wal­nut across from Ris­ing Sun’s Tri­an­gle Dog Park, he said it is ac­tu­ally an his­tor­i­cal site.

“There used to be Ris­ing Sun Mill there in the 1800s,” John­son said of the land he pur­chased in 1982. “The mill was down by the mo­bile home park.”

Once part of the Et­ter Farm, John­son said a dam up­stream causes the land to be wet all the time.

It’s one of the prop­er­ties that War­nick said re­cently “we can agree can’t be de­vel­oped.”

Look­ing at a map of the town with the prop­er­ties marked, War­nick and John­son dis­cussed the lo­ca­tion of the land, not­ing it is con­tigu­ous to the dog park. War­nick said he would look into grant fund­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties to pur­chase the land, which would make it part of the ed­u­ca­tional com­po­nent of Tri­an­gle Park.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JANE BELLMYER

Ris­ing Sun Com­mis­sioner David War­nick, right and Arthur John­son study a town map to­gether to see where John­son’s 15.5 acres off North Wal­nut Street is lo­cated.

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