By Charles Sercombe
For the last several weeks city officials have ramped up their plea for some attention from the emergency manager.
Mayor Karen Majewski and city councilmembers have complained that Emergency Manager Cathy Square is not sharing financial information with them and rebuffs their requests to meet with them.
Square has countered that she’s playing it by the rules, and the rules governing emergency managers don’t require her to meet with city officials.
But Square said she is not entirely deaf to their requests.
Call it an olive branch of sorts.
Square said she is getting the Michigan Municipal League to tutor city officials on how to deal with financial matters and will allow the council to weigh in on the hiring of a city manager.
As for financial documents, Square said anyone can see what she is doing by going to the city’s website as well as through the state’s website.
When she leaves her post on July 1, Square said monthly financial reports will be made available.
In other developments, Square is still seeking a new city assessor. She said she is reposting the job after an initial round of applications were submitted. Square said she was thinking of hiring a private company to take over the duties, but that bid came in too high.
Now, she is thinking of hiring an assessor to be on staff and outsource a major reassessment of every single property in the city – which is over 7,000 houses and commercial properties.
In recent years the city council has voted against reassessing properties because of the cost, which the former assessor offered to do for $70,000 in addition to his salary. Performing a citywide reassessment was not part of the duties of the assessor’s job.
Square said the city properties have not been assessed for tax values since 1965.
Not only has the city been far behind in assessing properties, but the assessment records the city has on file are for only 145 properties.
“We’re going to give the city a fresh start,” she said.
But it’s also more than a fresh start.
Square said there have surely been additions and improvements made to many properties since 1965. That means those properties are worth more.
“There’s probably a couple of million dollars out there,” Square said in reference to additional tax dollars that can be captured.
The re-assessment will take two years, Square said.