Frozen in time

The council chambers in The Fort Atkinson Municipal Building stands frozen in time. Council has been meeting virtually as a pandemic precaution.

The Fort Atkinson City Council voted unanimously last Tuesday to approve a request for annexation into the city made by a homeowner at W6151 Highland Ave.

Council members also assigned a ward and zoning designation for the property.

City Clerk Michelle Ebbert noted that the homeowner, Doug Hornickel, recently purchased the 1.28-acre property, which then was included within the boundaries of the Town of Koshkonong. The property has a failing septic system, Ebbert said, which, according to an application submitted by Hornickel in November, precipitated the homeowner’s desire for annexation into the city of Fort Atkinson where he could connect with city services.

Ebbert said materials about the property were submitted for review to the state Department of Administration and the department submitted its findings on Dec. 10. The department found that the annexation would be in the public interest, which, she said, was a favorable response from the department in support of the request.

The clerk noted that the property owner would be responsible for reimbursing the city for annexation review fees in the amount of $400.

The city does not have a municipal boundary agreement with the Town of Koshkonong, Ebbert indicated, which means that the city would be required annually to pay an amount equal to the amount of property taxes that the town would have levied against the parcel for the next five years.

Information provided within the council packet indicates that $359.10 was collected from the property as part of the Koshkonong tax levy in 2019. The tax levied amount in 2020 would be due to the town from the city over the next five years, as per state statutes, because the two municipalities do not have a municipal boundary agreement, she said.

Once the property is annexed, the city can add it to its assessment rolls and the city assessor can assess the property for taxation in Fort Atkinson. Looking at similar properties in Fort Atkinson, Ebbert estimated Fort Atkinson’s tax levy against the property would be around $2,023, which, she cautioned, would not be the full taxes paid by the property owner but the apportionment for the city.

Once annexed, the property would undergo a zoning change from R-2 rural residential to SR-3 single-family residential.

The annexation also would require creation of a new Ward No. 10, Ebbert said.

The ward would include the single parcel with one voter.

Adding the new property to one of the city’s existing districts can take place when the city undergoes citywide redistricting, Ebbert said.

For now, a new ward will be created to serve the one property owner.

When the city redistricts, she said, it will go back down to nine wards and the annexed property would be included within one of those wards.

The annexed property is surrounded by property already in the city on its north and west sides, Ebbert added.

“The ward situation will really only affect the spring primary and general election,” council President Mason Becker said.

Ebbert said she hoped the city would redistrict before April of 2022.

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