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March 25, 2019 11:56 pm

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City Declines To Help Finance Improvements To Parking Lot For Two Homeowners

   “We are not a bank. When we get billed, they get billed,” said Saugatuck City Council Member Barry Johnson at Monday’s meeting, echoing a feeling among other councilpersons that the city should not be in the business of managing the financing and interest accrual of a special infrastructure improvement request coming from a few homeowners.

     The property owners at 649 and 703 Pleasant St. requested the city about a year and half ago to make improvements to a parking pad located between their respective properties, including a change from the existing horizontal parking to parallel parking. 

     The city is currently undergoing some infrastructure improvements, (e.g., Water Street) and any others improvements would be cheaper and more efficient for a contractor to perform now as opposed to having the contractor return at a later time. 

     City officials reviewed the property owners’ proposed improvements and found them acceptable, but stipulated that the property owners would be responsible for the costs involved in the project now estimated at $5,405. 

     However, further discussion at Monday’s meeting about the matter led the council to vote down the originally proposed agreement, a so-called “voluntary special assessment agreement.” 

     That process would have given the homeowners about a two-year time period or more to pay, via the summer tax bills, for the improvements. 

     “I don’t think the taxpayers of Saugatuck should be financing improvements that only benefit two people,” said Johnson, suggesting the city would have had to pick up the tab on the interest for financing. 

     That interest would be minimal, noted Saugatuck City Manager Kirk Harrier. 

     Instead of the special assessment agreement, the council unanimously voted on a motion to authorize the city attorney to prepare a different agreement to reflect its new wish: have the property owners pay upon completion of the work. 

     The agreement will have to be approved and signed by the property owners for it to be valid. 

     Harrier told council he did not know whether the attorney would draft that new agreement under the rubric of a special assessment or not, as special assessments only usually apply to those projects incorporated in the tax roll process.

City Declines To Help Finance Improvements To Parking Lot For Two Homeowners

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