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Linn County Leader - Brookfield, MO
  • Surplus Property Plan Proposed

  • The City of Marceline currently owns 31 ‘surplus’ pieces of property that aren’t generating revenue and, in some cases, are presenting the City with maintenance costs (i.e., mowing). As new Marceline City Manager Richard Hoon made clear during Tuesday evening’s meeting of the Marceline City Council, he...
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  • The City of Marceline currently owns 31 ‘surplus’ pieces of property that aren’t generating revenue and, in some cases, are presenting the City with maintenance costs (i.e., mowing). As new Marceline City Manager Richard Hoon made clear during Tuesday evening’s meeting of the Marceline City Council, he’s not content with maintaining the status quo when it means community stagnation...And he has a plan.
    Although gentrification is a term commonly applied to describe economic displacement in urban areas, it has a much more positive connotation when it’s used to describe a process of neighborhood revitalization in small rural communities such as Marceline.
    Neighborhoods, like people, typically have life spans, initial periods of rapid growth and prosperity followed by a maintenance period with slower growth and eventual decline. Unfortunately, the stage of neighborhood decline is sometimes prolonged in Marceline as a result of absentee property owners, folks who, unlike current Marceline residents, don’t have to look at the steady deterioration of a structure that is inevitable when that house isn’t being occupied and maintained. But the value of those eyesores aren’t the only ones declining along with their appearance; the property values of neighboring residences are suffering as well.
    Hoon proposes establishing a ‘Surplus Property Fund’ that contains the proceeds from sales of lots that once contained dilapidated structures. As absentee property owners often get behind on the taxes they owe on the structures they aren’t maintaining, many of those dilapidated houses inevitably end up being sold to the highest bidder during the County’s annual back tax sale. Monday, City Clerk Lindsay Krumpelman will be attending the county back taxes sale at the Linn County Courthouse with the Council’s authorization to bid an amount not to exceed the tax lien on a particular structure.
    Hoon explained to the Council Tuesday, “We need to pick two or three of these properties and declare them as surplus, which will make them eligible for sale to the public. Within a specified time period, the properties we purchased would be for sale to the public.” In the case of a dilapidated house, the City would just be looking to recover the cost of demolition and a modest price for the remaining lot. “This isn’t a big money-maker,” qualified Hoon. “We just want to get these lots cleared so new homes can be constructed on them that will then be on the tax rolls.” In terms of gentrification, the hoped-for process would amount to turning back the clock on an aging neighborhood as new homes and their owners encourage their neighbors to make improvements to their houses as well.
    During the Tuesday evening Council meeting, Councilman Jeri Holt expressed his concern about the City being saddled with the perpetual expense of mowing the lots the City has acquired at the County back tax sale.
    Page 2 of 2 - Councilman John Carver asked, “If someone bought one of these properties, would they still be liable to clean them up?” He was assured that the new owner would be responsible for eliminating an eyesore if the City hadn’t already done so. Furthermore, there would be no back tax liability imposed on the new owner.
    New Street Lamps
    During Tuesday’s meeting of the Marceline City Council two representatives with Wesco Distribution made a very thorough presentation of the LED street lamps they want to sell to the City. The company that manufactures the lamps (Halophane) has a long history, the glass globes appear to be superior to plastic, the LED lights are less expensive to operate, and their drivers are said to be good for 65,000 hours before needing to be services or replaced. Other desirable features were a globe sealed thoroughly enough to prevent bugs from getting in and a six-year warranty on the entire fixture.
    However, Councilmen Josh Shoemaker and Mark Hatfield were less than impressed with the quote of between $125,000 to $140,000 for all of the lamps without the installation cost  included. “I don’t think the payback on these lights is adequate,” remarked Hatfield.
    And when Mayor Jacob Gordon asked whether the costs being explained were ‘hard figures,‘ the salesmen replied that they were not.
    The City has only budgeted $92,045 to replace the street lamps on Main Street USA.

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