Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

City Could Be on Hook for Millions ; Lack of Development in Lauren's Bay Estates Costs $11.1M in Special Assessment Costs

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

City Could Be on Hook for Millions ; Lack of Development in Lauren's Bay Estates Costs $11.1M in Special Assessment Costs

Article excerpt

The city of Topeka will need to cover as much as an estimated $11.1 million in special assessment infrastructure costs unless builders develop homes in southwest Topeka's Lauren's Bay Estates, where the 178 lots currently have only three houses, the city's governing body learned Tuesday evening.

Brandon Kauffman, the city's chief fiscal officer and controller/ treasurer, provided the governing body three potential options to follow when it decides in coming weeks how to go about levying assessments for the development.

Kauffman said the Lauren's Bay situation illustrates why the city should consider taking steps to mitigate the risks it takes regarding a process through which the city forms special assessment benefit districts to encourage development.

The city has long enabled developers to ask the city to form geographical districts to pay the city's costs to provide such services as water, sewer and street infrastructure for new developments. The city, after the work is completed, requires each lot owner to pay a certain amount annually as part of their property tax bill, generally for 20 years.

But when those assessments aren't paid, the city foots the bill, Kauffman said.

Mayor Larry Wolgast said, "And that goes back to the reason we need to perhaps have a new process, so that doesn't happen."

Kauffman noted the city collected 97 percent of the special assessments it levied up until 2008, the year of a housing market crash, but has collected only 83 percent since.

The city plans to hold a forum targeted at getting the local development community involved in looking at potential changes, including perhaps requiring a guarantee from a financial institution, Kauffman said.

He expressed particular concern regarding the Lauren's Bay Estates district that Gene Jani's Brainstorm Development Group initiated in 2007 in the area west of S.W. 47th and Wanamaker Road. Jani subsequently declared bankruptcy, and the property's ownership now includes two banks, four developers and three individual homeowners, Kauffman said.

He said the city put in place a $701-per-lot assessment for sewer infrastructure work it had carried out in Lauren's Bay Estates, and governing body members will be asked soon to approve assessments for projects completed there to make improvements to one pond and provide water and street infrastructure. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.