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Resident accuses city of violating code for SAD

Posted: August 29, 2013 - 8:24pm

At Wednesday night’s meeting the Soldotna City Council heard more from a resident concerning a Special Assessment District.

Tim Cashman Jr. spoke to the council, a second time, accusing the city of violating multiple codes in the Porcupine Court Special Assessment District.

“This is, over the line, a criminal act,” Cashman said.

Cashman told council the information that was provided to property owners about the SAD described a public works project — a city funded project benefiting the community — not a SAD — a project primarily benefiting property owners in a limited area and partially funded by those owners.

Stephanie Queen, director of economic development and planning, said the project is both a community and neighborhood-specific project. With the city’s Waste Water Treatment Plant and Animal Control buildings located on Porcupine Court, and Animal Control generating a significant volume of traffic, the city opted to pay the 75 percent of the project cost. The additional tax is divided 12.5 percent per lot and 12.5 percent by parcel area, putting 86 percent of the total cost on the city’s tab.

“I feel like we achieved that balance where the private properties are participating in a meaningful way, but also putting enough burden on the city,” Queen said.

Cashman said none of the property owners asked for this project and owners of 10 of the 12 privately owned lots wrote letters opposing the project.

He said the city also did not give owners enough time to respond to the substitute resolution, violating a code that requires a new public comment period.

Property owners were given a 30-day comment period for the original resolution. Queen said the city waited for the comment period to close before staff altered recommendations to give everyone an opportunity to voice their concerns about the original SAD resolution.

“It really was our interest to get people involved in a meaningful way throughout,” Queen said. “The reason we didn’t do it was mostly because of the timing.”

The substitute resolution was available online July 19, five days before the meeting where council members passed the substitute resolution.

Queen said, in the future, she thinks it is a good idea for the city to allow for a longer comment period when the staff changes recommendations.

Cashman also claims the city is violating code that specifies minimum construction standards. He said code requires a 24-foot street; not meeting this street width should be enough to pause the project.

“I’ve done enough building around here. I’ve had them come by. I’ve been tagged. I know how seriously they take this stuff. I know what happens,” Cashman said. “You cannot proceed. (The city) should not have the ability to proceed like this either.”

Queen said the city is working in a narrower area than usual and Porcupine Court has overheard power lines on one side and a slope with trees that act as a buffer between the street and the Waste Water Treatment Facility. To keep all those improvements intact, the city opted for a 22-foot street.

It’s common in a lot of communities, if there is a situation where the standard isn’t appropriate, that the city has the ability to set different standards, she said.

Cashman said the city is violating at least six municipal codes by moving forward with this project.

“If a private citizen were trying to build something with this many code violations, they would received a stop work order and a citation if they continued regardless of any contracts they may have had in place,” Cashman said at the meeting.

Kyle Kornelis, city engineer, said the improvements to Porcupine Court are scheduled to be completed in the beginning of October.

The renovations for Porcupine Court include pavement, curb, gutter and drainage improvements. The substitute resolution estimated the cost of those improvements to be $360,333.

The council passed the substitute resolution for the SAD at a July 24 meeting, without directly notifying all of the affected property owners.

The substitute resolution cut the cost of the SAD to five property owners by 51 to 54 percent, while Cashman received only a 5 percent tax reduction.

Cashman was taxed a total of $18,405 for his five undeveloped lots valued at $42,500.

The next council meeting is scheduled for Sept. 11 at 6 p.m.

Kaylee Osowski can be reached at kaylee.osowski@peninsulaclarion.com.

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Suss
3520
Points
Suss 08/30/13 - 12:35 pm
0
0
Cashman

The Lilly street improvement was a 75% owner shared costs SAD that gave the Cashman property a culvert and driveway access to the back of his building and no payment nor assessment for this "gift" was ever charged. Please revisit this sad, SAD history. Now that there is a 25% owner shared costs for improving Porcupine Court there are multiple objections, so if it isn’t free somebody is not happy. The Cashman property should still pay for the free one it received on Lilly.

Overtaxed
9
Points
Overtaxed 08/30/13 - 12:40 pm
1
0
SAD indeed.

Suss, you are referring to a different Cashman. However, the Cashman you are referring to did purchase, and install a manhole in Lilly Street for the use of all residents of that neighborhood at a cost of $30,000.00. This "gift" was never repaid and no repayment is expected. The culvert you are referring to is for drainage from the Lilly Street homes and not the other Cashman's property.

The Cashman you are referring to is not looking for a "gift" or anything free. In fact, he is trying to save all the residents of Soldotna well over $360,000.00 for a project no one outside of City Hall even seems to want.

If the City is to proceed Cashman is requesting the City to follow it's own municipal codes and to assess him fairly. Cashman's property is being assessed at $18,000.00 per acre while the City property across the street is assessed at $4,400.00 per acre.

Suss
3520
Points
Suss 08/30/13 - 01:58 pm
0
0
SAD too

The culvert allows vehicle access to the southeast corner of the other Cashman's property, who also complained to the city at this meeting. There is no drainage purpose for the culvert, it was put in the ditch and covered so to drive across the perfectly working drainage ditch that did not need the help of a culvert. Not to confuse anyone but the "not the other" Cashman is the registered agent for the "other" Cashman on this subject property. Meanwhile back to Porcupine Court, the City is already paying 75% cost and then splitting the 25% remainder on a per lot basis, with the City ultimately paying 86% of the total costs. Let's see if anyone else ever got that low of a cost or a split like this one. I doubt this low of a split will ever happen again. Maybe this should be reviewed because it looks like Cashman is getting too good of a break on costs. To be fair and equitable as the City has done in the past, make this SAD a 75% owner /25% City split like they have had a history of doing and save the taxpayers the huge cost difference or expect the next SAD to ask for the "Cashman" split. The Borough assessments for these lots seem woefully low and could use a review also, but that will probably come with the improvements to the street.

Overtaxed
9
Points
Overtaxed 08/30/13 - 08:42 pm
0
0
Interesting Interpretation

Mr.,Ms.,(Dr.?) Suss, you have completely missed the point here. Cashman is not looking for a 25/75 split or 75/25 split. He does not want it here or there, he does not want it anywhere. The neighborhood did not ask for this project, it did not want it, and 10 out of 12 property owners wrote letters of opposition to it.

Cashman does not want a single taxpayer to spend a single dime on this project. It is being rammed down his throat by the City who makes the rules and then changes them along the way.

You might like the "Cashman" split. It goes like this. "If you want it, you pay for it!"

The City has a different split. It goes like this. "If they want it, you pay for it?"

-Tim

Norseman
3200
Points
Norseman 08/30/13 - 05:16 pm
0
1
the old adage, "you can't

the old adage, "you can't beat city hall" comes to mind.

Suss
3520
Points
Suss 08/30/13 - 05:18 pm
0
0
Got it

Okay, I think I get it. Even if the Porcupine project were to be free you do not want it. No ballot measure for paying for the police station ever passed. Instead the City raised the amount they could spend without a public vote and poof, there is a new police station. City does many things that are not what the public wants, buying up land for a cemetery that does not get used for a cemetery. So the way I see it you could litigate for a lot more money than you would pay for the improvements and even if you were to “win” you lose financially. Time for a new city council is coming up in October so remember who was with you or against you.

Overtaxed
9
Points
Overtaxed 08/30/13 - 06:18 pm
0
0
I appreciate the support

There is no "free" in government spending. Either I pay or the government forces someone else to pay for me. In this case no property owner from Porcupine Court asked for the street and none have tried to force another to pay for them.

Our current City Administration is completely out of touch on this one. City Hall chose the project, City Hall chose the assessment amounts, City Hall deliberately picked winners and losers and then changed everything without public comment for "expediency". City Hall chose to violate multiple municipal codes and City Hall has done all of this against the will of the people. Remember 10 out of 12 property owners said no. The other 2 did not say anything.

I hope the citizens of Soldotna will not sit on their hands and allow this to happen. I will fight City Hall and eventually I will win. I could really use some help though. If they succeed on this one I promise one of you out there will be next.

Regardless of my ridiculous assessment, please remember 86% of this junk project came from you, your friends, and your neighbors. Is it worth $360,000.00 to have a slightly less bumpy road to dog pound? That was the primary justification for this project. The Citizens of Soldotna can't even access the river from here.

The the only money the City has is money they took from someone else. They pay themselves well with your money and they have the responsibility not to waste it like this. You have the responsibility to tell them no.

Call your Council Members and tell them what you think about this. They have been silent on this issue far to long. It is their responsibility to act. Please make sure they do. Hold them accountable if they don't.

I would be more than happy to share the full story with anyone who is interested.

Thanks for the support.

-Tim

Suss
3520
Points
Suss 08/30/13 - 07:43 pm
0
0
Porcupine was born with P&Z

The planning and zoning meeting was your first level of the process that cleared the way for this to happen over the property owners objections. Paul Whitney, who is running for city council, is on the Soldotna Planning and Zoning Commission that signed off for the City on this. Have you thought about who you are going to vote for, for city council?

Overtaxed
9
Points
Overtaxed 08/30/13 - 08:39 pm
0
0
Good to know

I have been thinking quite a bit about that. I appreciate the insight. I know a lot of other people who are also looking quite closely at this Council election.

- Tim

kenairiverbandit
65
Points
kenairiverbandit 08/31/13 - 06:57 am
0
0
Government

Government will do what ever it wants unless the people do Whatever is necessary to keep them honest. Unfortunately these days in this kinder/gentler world that is frowned upon. The ONLY problem with society is the lack of involvement from those directly and indirectly involved. For example...when Mr. Carey was Borough mayor, he hired Scooter and Sue to stand by his side. Soon after hiring them, he gave them both a very handsome payraise by todays standards. When questioned why they deserve that much more money from the taxpayers without having time to prove they earned the raise, he danced around the issue. Then there is the deal with Scooter and the equipment....Nobody stood up for the people regarding the backdoor dealings and the proper paperwork being filed. They had a gangload of people testify to how Nice a Guy Scooter was but he and Carey were never held accountable for their disregard of the laws. I guarantee one thing...If the people of this town would act like the college kids of the sixties and physically protest, this project could potentially be shut down. You dont know unless you try and sitting behind your keyboard protesting and complaining will do Nothing. History doesnt Always repeat itself.....Break the chain of followers and Do Something or Shut Up.

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