By Frank Denzler Rushville Republican
---- — The trio of Mark Bacon, Bruce Levi and Ken Masters (Rush County Commissioners) met recently and held their lengthiest meeting of the year. Two of the most time-consuming and debated issues were related to request made by city officials - a request to move forward with the city’s plan and seek available grant monies for a “Rails for Trails” walking path and a second request to remove all tax liens on properties the city acquired from the county following a 2013 tax sale.
According to city attorney Julie Newhouse, the city acquired 18 properties from the county following a tax sale during the latter part of 2013. They are properties that have tax liens against them, and according to Newhouse, three to five of the properties are occupied.
“We are hoping to have taxes paid on a few of the properties and a couple of others. We have contacted a neighbor to the vacant property in hopes they would like to purchase the neighboring lot. We are requesting that the county give the properties in question free and clear without tax encumbrance,” Newhouse said.
Newhouse and Rushville Mayor Mike Pavey said that they have been in contact with other counties and although there are other alternatives available, such as making a request through the DLC, the county officials have the ability to resolve the tax issue.
County auditor Mary Ann Beard voiced concerns of removing the taxes because currently her office is in the process of collecting taxes on all properties. She continued by saying that city officials have worked diligently to clear this matter up.
City officials countered by saying that some of the properties in question are vacant lots and a hearing on the matter is set for April 29.
In an unrelated matter, Mayor Pavey turned his attention to the “Rails For Trails” issue.
Pavey said a deadline for applying for available grant monies for such a project is rapidly approaching and requested the county approve a city request to move forward with a feasibility study into obtaining property for the project. The project calls for a path to follow since closed railroad lines. The long range plan call for a trail to run from the city to near the Homer, Manilla area. A major snag in the project is that once the rail lines ceased to be used, many county property owners acquired the former railroad property. Following a lengthy discussion, the county approved the city’s request to look further into the matter, with the stipulation the county can opt out of the project at any time.
In a final matter, the county approved a request that county surveyor Marvin Rees serve as the interim area plan director until the position can be filled.
Contact: Frank Denzler @ 765.932.2222 x106.