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City to adjust fire service assessment

By Staff | Nov 26, 2013

On Wednesday morning at 9, Judge Keith Kyle could make a decision on the future of the city’s controversial fire service assessment which has spent months in limbo.

Meanwhile, on Monday, in a last-minute addendum to its agenda, the Cape Coral City Council passed a resolution to set forth corrections within the assessment methodology to bring forward a building value that had been initially excluded.

It was an odd-looking resolution, as it had no council member as sponsor, unlike the original proposal, which had an equally unusual six.

City Attorney Dolores Menendez said while unusual, a sponsor was not required.

The change won’t exactly produce a windfall for taxpayers, as it will only be pennies “per equivalent building unit” ($5,000), from $1.46 to $1.42.

In other words a $100,000 property (20 EBUs) would be assessed $28.40 rather than $29.20.

But it could be used to help persuade the judge’s decision in the city’s favor, according to Michael Ilczyszyn, the city’s business manager.

“We are hoping this is beneficial to the city in its hearing. We need to assure that all the properties were fairly and equitably assessed,” Ilczyszyn said.

Ilczyszyn said 114 parcels within the city had a building value that exceeded what was imposed in the EBUs during the initial assessment.

There were multiple buildings on 382 parcels where the values were not captured for all the buildings. Those 114 will get a higher bill than previously thought.

“Inside of the structures themselves were multiple buildings, and inside of those folio sheets, the value of the buildings sent to us contained only the value of one of the buildings, so we needed to pick up the additional buildings,” Ilczyszyn said.

Those 114 buildings represent .08 percent of the 135,000 units in Cape Coral, with the others getting a due process hearing in order to understand their bill to make up for the difference.

“They will receive the same due process under the original fire service assessment that was passed,” Ilczyszyn said.

As far as the meeting itself, Susan Trudy, attorney for Bryant Miller Olive, said the city still has a “compelling story to tell” and believes the city will still be triumphant in its case.

As far as the error, even as small as the city says it is, they don’t think it will be much of a problem.

“We want to tell the judge we understand there was an error in the rolls and it will reduce the other parcels and that corrections will be made,” Trudy said.

The introduction of the resolution could be an answer to the Talan Corp., which has asked to be part of the seven-person consortium that has come forward as defendants in the case. Talan claims the assessment values could be off by millions.

The city’s attorneys are expected to make a motion to block Talan from the case, claiming the evidentiary part of the hearing is over and that Talan and the public were given ample opportunity to take part before the trial began.

Indeed, Judge Kyle denied a motion on the second day of the original hearing to allow other interveners and to continue the case to allow the defense to properly bring forth its case.