Rising Sun resident seeks property tax relief
— 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-
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.
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.