(Editor’s note: This is part one of a three-part series concerning the many issues that need to be addressed between Hassan and Rogers before the full merger takes place in 2012. Part one deals with uneven tax rates. Part two talks about TIF districts and their role in the merger talks. Part three is about services and those impacts on the merger.)
by Bob Grawey
Merging Hassan and Rogers seems to be something like bringing two very different sides of a family together for a holiday, or some special event. People just do not see eye-to-eye on things and find it hard to agree long enough on anything to get much accomplished.
Even the final annexation date is a source of irritation for many Hassan residents.
On several occasions, Rogers officials have publicly agreed to move the full merger date from Jan. 1, 2012, to July 1, 2012.
It was a request from Hassan in order to give residents more representation concerning their specific concerns leading up to the 2012 elections when they would be part of Rogers.
Rogers City Council members, however, have not formally approved the later date. Rogers Mayor Jason Grimm says the city is not dragging its feet, but that council and city staff just want to be “prudent” in making this final decision.
“What it comes down to is that Hassan board members have to represent their constituents and we have to represent ours,” Grimm says. “They can’t ask us to rush into things when we’re methodically going through a process.”
That is only one irritant, though, according to Hassan residents Mark Dobberstein and Greg Peppin.
Both men, as well as others in the township, claim their property taxes stand to increase considerably when they are annexed into Rogers.
Dobberstein compares his Hassan home in Cambria Farms just off County Road 144 to his Rogers neighbor on the opposite side of 144 in the Brockton Meadows development.
The county road serves as the border between the two communities.
His property taxes for 2010, to be paid in 2011, are $4,426.14. Dobberstein’s Brockton Meadows neighbor on the other side of 144 has a taxable market value $7,000 less than his property, but that Rogers property is taxed at $4,804.68.
The difference in what Dobberstein and his Rogers neighbor pay in city/township property taxes is $378.54 in his taxes when he is annexed into Rogers in 2012, according to figures from the Hennepin County property tax summary for this year.
“We want to avoid sticker shock of paying Rogers’ tax rates,” Dobberstein explains. “They are at 41 percent and ours in Hassan are 28 (percent). We would like a six-year phase-in to get to the higher rates. The disparity is too much to absorb at once.”
Rogers Mayor Jason Grimm, who has been criticized for being slow to respond to Hassan concerns, says any tax rate phase-in would need to consider a lot of variables.
“Nothing is set in stone,” Grimm says, “but we need to talk about it. It’s a balancing act between the 8,500 people we (Rogers City Council) represent today and the 2,600 Hassan residents we will represent in the future.”