By Bill Petzold
DENMARK TWP — The Denmark Township board voted during Wednesday’s special meeting at the township hall not to appeal the Michigan Tax Tribunal’s ruling in favor of the residents who live in the special assessment district created for the abandoned water project.
After a two-hour closed session, trustee Steve Schwab made a motion that “Denmark Township will not file exceptions or appeal the tax tribunal small claims cases.” Trustee Arnold Krumnauer supported the motion, and it passed 4-0. Treasurer Dennis Weber did not vote because he had to leave before the conclusion of the meeting.
“I think it was wonderful that the board decided instead of continuing the fight more that they stopped at this point,” Denmark Township resident Beth Asperger said. Asperger and her husband Scott presented their appeal to Michigan Tax Tribunal hearing referee Tina S. Gray on December 19 at the Purdy Building in Caro. Their appeal was one of 34 heard by Gray in three sessions in December and January. Gray’s proposed judgement was that the Aspergers and fellow residents not be charged for the project.
As of Wednesday, not all residents who had filed appeals had received letters with their proposed judgements, but it is expected that the tax tribunal will issue the same judgement for all the appeals.
See DENMARK A6
Most of the evidence submitted by residents was the same from case to case, including a 141-page analysis of the creation of the special assessment district prepared by Joe Turner of Saginaw-based tax firm Michigan Property Consultants.
“We’re all very thankful, because we didn’t want to go any further if we had to,” Asperger said. “I am very happy that at this point they’re not going to appeal.”
It remains to be seen what happens with three small-claims cases and a lawsuit filed against the township by residents in the water district. More could be known after Monday’s meeting.
The township board will be faced with the dilemma of finding a way to pay for the $395,000 incurred before November’s vote to abandon the controversial project. The total includes primarily engineering and legal fees, as well as other costs associated with preparations for the project.
Township clerk Chuck Heinlein said that residents in the district who have already paid the $825 in additional taxes as part of the special assessment will get their money back, and that the board will discuss a plan to pay the cost at 7 p.m. Monday during the board’s regular meeting.
“We looked at different ways that we could possibly handle this,” Heinlein said.
“It’s cutting somewhere, and I don’t know where because it’s pretty bare-bones already, so it’s either salaries or services. That’s going to have to be determined.”
Bill Petzold is a staff writer for the Tuscola County Advertiser. He can be reached at email@example.com.