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Is The Tax Illegal?

Is The Tax Illegal? image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
OCR Text

City of Ann Arbor is Sued in the Hill St. Sewer Matter. A BIG SUM AT STAKE And the City or Sewer District Must Foot the Bill. The Sewer Cost $31,000, of Which $14,000 Has Been Paid.--Ford Estate Asks That the Tax Be Declared Illegal. A suit was commenced yesterday against the city in the Hill st. sewer matter, which if it goes against the city will give rise to the utmost confusion and may possibly saddle a heavy tax on the city. The sewer tax in this district was $31,453.24, of which on April 1, of this year, $14,345.72 had been paid in, leaving about $17,000 still outstanding. If this tax should be declared illegal, the question of how the money to meet these sewer bonds outstanding for this sewer would prove a troublesome one. The decision of the court might permit of a reassessment of the district. In this case how would the man who has already paid his sewer tax in this district fare? Would he have the money voluntarily paid refunded, in opposition to the ordinary rule of law? It is but fair to state that the city authorities do not seem to be greatly disturbed by the suit, evidently expecting the city to win. A bill was filed in the circuit court yesterday by Bryant Walker, of Detroit, administrator de bonis non with the will annexed of Dr. Corydon L. Ford, deceased, against the city of Ann Arbor and William Rehfuss, the county treasurer, asking that the sewer assessments against the Ford property in Lateral Sewer District No. 3, be declared illegal and that the county treasurer be enjoined from collecting them. The return day is made May 12. The bill sets forth the proceedings leading up to the building of the Hill street sewer; the declaration by the council, June 10, 1894, that the construction of the Hill street sewer was expedient; the report of the sewer committee, May 6, 1895, that the Hill street lateral sewer was a necessary public improvement and recommending that the Board of Public Works advertise for bids; the adoption of this report by the council and the passage of a r6nolntion of the purport of the report, and the fixing of the district to be assessed; the advertisement of the board for bids; the contract for the construction of the sewer for $26,749.75 confirmed by the council, June 24, 1895. The bill states that no other resolution or proceeding was passed or taken by the council other than as above set forth and points out that "neither in the report of the fewer committee or resolution of the council was there any declaration or finding that said district or any part therein would be benefited by such sewer, nor any statement that the construction of any sewer was necessary or expedient except upon said Hill street. It points out that the map of the city engineer shows that a system of connecting sewers ran through the various streets of the district to empty at a point on Hill street, into a main sewer, which was designed to be an extension of the main sewer which then terminated at a point on Hill street a considerable distance away from the district. The bill sets up the assessment upon the lots in the district being based upon land values, and not including the improvements on the land and the fact that real estate belonging to the school board was not assessed and claims that as the property of the Ford estate had on it only buildings of small value, tbe effect of the omission by the assessor to take in consideration the value of the improvements was to overvalue the lands of the Ford estate in comparison with the value of the other lands. The bill also sets forth that the board of review did not attach any certificate of their approval of the roll to it, although they reported such approval to the council; and the council on August 1, 1895, ordered the assessor to spread on the roll $31,453.24, the estimated cost of construction, which the orator claims is several thousand dollars in excess of the cost as appears by the contract. The bill also claims that the sewer constructed along Hill street was a main sewer and not properly assessable upon a local assessment district. The assertion is also made that the council never passed an ordinance authorizing assessments by land values.