MUSCATINE — The County Board of Supervisors took action Monday to abate the taxes assessed to the City of Muscatine for a piece of property.
The property on Poplar and Third Streets is less than a quarter of an acre that the City of Muscatine received during right-of-way easement as part of the Mad Creek Levee Improvement Project.
“The City (of Muscatine) is going through the process of cleaning up city owned properties,” said Adam Thompson, who presented for the City’s Community Development Department. “As we were going through this process we came across this property and realized the transfer never took place and that we were being charged taxes on it.”
Thompson said it was always the city’s intent that the property be transferred to the adjoining property owner who owns the apartment complex. He said that getting the taxes on the property abated and transferred is a “good housekeeping” approach for the city.
“Really the City only wants to keep things that have a purpose or value for the city,” Thompson said. “Properties that are not being utilized by the city or for city business, the city still has to maintain those properties.”
The City of Muscatine has a list of 47 properties that range from easements like on Poplar and Third Streets to larger abandoned lots.
“We get these properties on the tax rolls,” said Dave Goben, director of community development for the city. “And we want to get our money recovered from what we have in the property. That's what we have in the remnants and the abandoned properties.”
He said that ideally these small easement properties could be added to adjacent properties making them more valuable lots.
“We are trying to put some properties together, making them a building lot,” Gobin said. “We'd like to put some of these with an existing property making it big enough to build a home or something on it. That's going to really multiply the value of the property but right now it's vacant.”
Goben said dealing with all 47 properties could take as many as 8 to 10 years, but he is hopeful that some properties like the easement on Poplar and Third Streets will be off the City’s bill soon.
“I can see us handling a big chunk of them — maybe a third of them — within the next year to year and a half because we have an aggressive program implemented,” Gobin said.