Northfield bumps up offer a second time

Update log: 11/12 8 p.m.

Click here to download a PDF file of the most recent draft of the annexation proposal

Brian O’Connell, Northfield’s community development director, offered to extend the amount of time the city would pay tax reimbursement fees to Greenvale Township during an annexation negotiation meeting on Wednesday night.

But, the township’s supervisors said they still needed time to think and could make a counter-offer.

O’Connell, who has been representing the city in negotiations along with Joel Walinski, Northfield’s interim city administrator, said on Wednesday the city could be willing to pay a fee of about $3,854.48 a year for perhaps 20 years, in an amount that would total about $77,000.
Previously, the city representatives offered to pay a fee for only eight years. That yearly dollar amount is equal to the property tax revenue Greenvale now collects on the 530 acres that the city wants to annex to build an industrial park.

The annexation deal would put those acres onto Northfield’s tax rolls. State law requires in such a transaction that a city government reimburse a township for its lost taxes for a period of two to eight years or some other agreed-upon amount.

“The effort is to get an agreement,” Walinski said to explain why the city is offering to reimburse Greenvale for lost taxes for a much longer amount of time than originally proposed. “We’re kind of in between bookends—on one end there’s the very least of what state law says we have to do, which is two years of reimbursement. At the upper end, we have previous annexation agreements that Northfield made with some other townships in the past that exceed the minimum state requirement to a high degree.”

Unlike those past agreements, however, there is no developer ready and waiting to invest money in the land Northfield is annexing from Greenvale. So, the city and Greenvale are trying to “find new ground,” Walinski said.

Gregory Langer, a Greenvale resident who has been very active in the discussions about annexation, said Northfield’s offer seemed better received among residents of the township than any previous offer. However, he said the three Greenvale supervisors have still not given O’Connell and Walinski a formal draft of a document listing specifically what Greenvale would like in the annexation deal.

“Our supervisors have no training in these kinds of things,” Langer said.

About 15 people attended last week’s meeting, he said, including Rhonda Pownell, one of Northfield’s newly elected city councilors. The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 18 at 8 p.m. in the Greenvale township hall on Guam Avenue.

Update 11/12 8 p.m. Mr. O’Connell later sent me the following e-mail response to a question of why he and Walinski decided to up the offer: “The rationale of offering a longer time frame is to attempt to get the Township to agree to SOMETHING!!

We originally started with the concept of paying the Township what is fair.  The state statutes indicate that the payment should be a tax reimbursement which we take to mean the taxes that the Township has been getting, not what the Township may receive if the property is developed in an urban land use which is a tax revenue that Township has not been getting.

The rationale of offering a reimbursement tern for a longer period of time is based on the concept that the development of the business and industrial area will take a long period time and it seem fair that we attempt to reimburse the Township for the taxes lost for a longer period of time.  The state statutes indicate that the reimbursement period can be between 2 years at a minimum up to 8 years or even a longer period of time if both governments agree.  Again, in an effort to get the Township to agree to something we have tried to give reimbursement for a longer period of time to meet the Township expectations.  As you may be aware, even with this more generous offer from the City, the Township still does not agree.  The Township position is that they believe they should be reimbursed on the basis of the tax revenue that would come from the Business and Industrial development which would generate a considerably higher tax payment to the Township even though the Township has not invested in any way to make the development of the business and industrial park occur.  We believe this is unfair which our City Council directed we should not pay something that is fundamentally not fair.”

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