After outcry, Green Bay council wants to reassess special assessment fees

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Homeowners in Green Bay are celebrating a victory.

The Green Bay City Council decided to hold off on road repairs on the far west side that would have cost some property owners tens of thousands of dollars in special assessment fees.

It's a story we've been following since last week impacting homeowners along Hillcrest Drive and Haven Place.

More than a dozen homeowners stepped up the lectern in front of the council Tuesday night, making it very clear to city leaders that something has to change when it comes to financing road repairs in the city. Homeowners told them about the hefty price tag, ranging from $16,000 to more than $42,000.

Council members certainly heard them -- and agreed.

With a unanimous vote, city council members decided to hold off on those road projects for one year as they take another look at all of their funding options.

There was even discussion of bringing up the wheel tax again, which would be an annual vehicle registration fee, eliminating special assessments and having all vehicle owners in the city share the cost of fixing roads.

A wheel tax proposal was voted down last year 7-5, but some are saying now is the time to revisit the idea.

"I think we should definitely put some effort into doing something," Alderman Randy Scannell said. "I agree that these assessments are unconscionable to be hit with these assessments. It was wrong a few years ago and it's wrong now. We should be able to do better somehow."

"I hope this is the straw that broke the camel's back. As Alder Steuer just said, that we look at a new way, a better way, so we aren't bankrupting our citizens and forcing them out of their homes," Alderwoman Barbara Dorff said.

We've been following Lisa Sabin-Wilson's story. She faced a $42,656 fee. That's on hold, but her fight isn't.

"One of the things my husband says is, we need to reach out to Jesse Brunette, who is our alderman in our district, and help him organize, whatever we can do to gather data or inform people in the area and in the city of Green Bay. We are more than willing to reach out to Jesse and help organize that, because it's important," she said.

Because the project is delayed on a year, the city's planning for the project won't go to waste for now.

The director of Public Works also says the delay of this project won't impact any other projects this year.