On Wednesday, Dec. 8, the Rose Township Board of Trustees approved a 14% increase on a weed control assessment and 9% increase on a road maintenance assessment for Fish Lake property owners by a vote of 4-1. Clerk Debbie Miller cast the dissenting vote for each assessment.
The increases came after Fish Lake property owners Dan LaRou and Sylvia Roemer sent a letter to the township board dated Nov. 22. Their letter stated that they were requesting an adjustment of the special assessment district.
They requested the increases to continue the maintenance and management of the private Fish Lake roads (Big Trail Road, Frushour Drive and Field Drive) along with Fish Lake weed control. They requested the increase run the duration of the special assessment district until 2025.
The board held multiple public hearings in 2020 before approving the current special assessment district last year.
LaRou and Roemer wrote that the costs of the roads and lake maintenance have risen each year without additional funding from the special assessment district account to offset these increased costs.
For 2021, road maintenance costs totaled $9,618.50 as of Nov. 22. Expected costs in 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025 are $12,147, $12,392, $12,800, $13,210, respectively.
For 2021, lake maintenance costs totaled $16,547 as of Nov. 22. Expected costs in 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025 are $16,919, $17,298, $17,677 and $18, 056, respectively.
John Mulvihill, township attorney, indicated in a letter to Supervisor Dianne Scheib-Snider that if at any time during the term of the special assessment district an actual incremental cost increase exceeds the estimate therefore by 10% or more, notice shall be given and a hearing afforded to the record owners of the property to be assessed. If there is no change in the special assessment district boundaries and the cost increase is less than 10%, a public hearing and notice to each property owner is not required.
Lake board special assessment districts are governed by the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act. In addition to the amount computed, the lake board may add not less than 10% or more than 15% of the gross sum to cover contingent expenses, including additional necessary hydrological studies by the department. No public hearing or notice is required if the increase is between 10% and 15%.
With the opinion of the attorney, Scheib-Snider wrote to LaRou and Roemer, “You can increase your road special assessment district by less than 10%, so 9% would be the allowable increase. The allowable lake special assessment district increase could be between 10% and 14%. The increase would be for the remainder of the term of both the road special assessment district and the lake special assessment district.”
Miller said she voted against the increases because she was made aware that some people around the lake did not know about this proposed increase. She said she had been taking phone calls from angry residents, many who have lived decades there and on fixed incomes.
During public comment, resident Julius Stern told the board that increasing the assessment without informing the affected residents is taxation without representation.