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Tyler County Booster - Local News
Stories Added September 2010
Copyright 2010 - Polk Coun
ty Publishing Company

Ivanhoe—Two Cities, One Future?

Tyler County Booster

by C.D. Woodrome, Reporter

Driving by the entrance on Hwy. 69/287, one finds it hard to imagine there are two cities beyond the signs on either side of Ivanhoe Drive. The City of Ivanhoe and the City of Ivanhoe North came into existence November 13, 2009 with the signing of the order by County Judge Jacques Blanchette. The orders incorporating the City of Ivanhoe and Ivanhoe North followed a tumultuous two years of wrangling over the resident population level and state requirements of population versus size of community. During that two year period the Homeowners Association had submitted a proposal to Driving by the entrance on Hwy. 69/287, one finds it hard to imagine there are two cities beyond the signs on either side of Ivanhoe Drive. The City of Ivanhoe and the City of Ivanhoe North came into existence November 13, 2009 with the signing of the order by County Judge Jacques Blanchette. The orders incorporating the City of Ivanhoe and Ivanhoe North followed a tumultuous two years of wrangling over the resident population level and state requirements of population versus size of community. During that two year period the Homeowners Association had submitted a proposal to property owners to institute a maintenance fee increase to approximately $300 per year. The vote by property owners was overwhelmingly in opposition to the increase. Which left the community and its leadership with only the option of voting to incorporate as a means to viably maintain the community. With very limited retail and commercial base to provide sales tax revenue, the two cities must rely on property tax to support the infrastructure in the cities. Franchise fees are being studied as additional sources of revenue. For fiscal year 2011, the upkeep of the approximately fifty miles of road system will be maintained on the recently approved tax rate of 79 cents per hundred dollar valuation. Both cities adopted the tax rate after the two city councils held public hearings on the proposed budgets of both cities. Opponents of the budgets presented a petition signed by dozens of individuals saying the budgets of both cities were excessive for a first time budget, and that the councils needed to take a conservative approach. The Petitions stopped short of recommending a tax rate, but statements made during the public hearing revolved around 60 to 65 cents per hundred. Proponents of the budget expressed concerns that first year tax revenue collections are likely to be less than those collected by established taxing entities, and the Mayors of both cities had researched the past expenditure history of the community to develop the budgets. Another point made in favor of the proposed budget and corresponding tax rate was that unlike maintenance fees which are considered “user fees”, property taxes in general can be used as a “write off” on the property owners federal income tax. Rumors began to spread through the community that if the City of Ivanhoe adopted one budget/tax rate, and the City of Ivanhoe North adopted another, it could lead to continued division of the community as has been the case since the developer instituted different deed restrictions and maintenance fees through the years of selling properties in the subdivision. More wrangling ensued. Accusations were levied against both Mayors who stood firm with the numbers they had presented in the proposed budgets. Ivanhoe Mayor Bill Preston said he would resign before subjecting the City of Ivanhoe to the continued struggle to make it to the end of a fiscal year with no financial cushion in the event of an emergency. Ivanhoe North Mayor Joe McIntyre said he developed the budget for his city based on previous expenditures, and anything less would lead to worse roads. In both cities the vote to adopt the fiscal year 2010-2011 budgets were two in favor and one opposed, followed by the vote to adopt the tax rate of 79 cents to cover the budgets, also on a vote of two for and one opposed. Following the vote, at least one city Commissioner received threats of being “targeted”. Tax appraisal notices were mailed by the appraisal district shortly after the vote on the tax rate. Residents and property owners who had not attended the city council meetings and public hearings which lead up to the setting of the tax rate have started calling city hall with questions about the increase in taxes. Some property owners with no improvements will experience a reduction in the cost for their property between the maintenance fees charged by the Association and the tax assessed by the city. Property owners with improvements, depending on value, will experience an increase.

Polk County Publishing Company