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John Mercure: Mercurey Rising

Come on Racine, Do the Right Thing

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   84 year old Angela France lives by herself in Racine.  Her long time husband passed away a few years ago.  She has lived in the same house for 24 years.   And apparently she has overpaid her property taxes for 24 years.  Each year the tax bill came and each year Angela paid it.


   Last year she went to refinance her home and the appraiser noticed that her home was actually 1200 square feet, not the 1700 square feet that she had been paying taxes on.  Apparently the city made a mistake without ever even going in her home.  France says she has been told that the culprit is a set of decorative windows  When her home was reassessed 24 years ago, the assessor thought those windows indicated there was a bedroom or other room up above the garage.  There isn't.  It's an unfinished attic space.  France says she never knew that space was included in the square footage until she recently went to have her home refinanced.


   Now here is where it gets interesting.  Everyone agrees that France was overcharged and that she overpaid. France agrees.  Her alderman agrees.  Other alderman agree.  The city attorney agrees.  Everyone agrees she was overcharged.  Everyone agrees she overpaid.  Not everyone apparently agrees she should be refunded for that overpayment.  This week the Racine Finance and Personnel Committee unanimously recommended that she only be repaid for last years overpayment.  It was unanimous!  Unanimous!!  The committee decided that too much time had passed.  What?!  I guarantee you, if Angela France owed the city money from 24 years ago, they would be chasing her down and demanding payment and interest.


   I spoke with Angela Frances today.  She is heartbroken.  And she's broke.  She says she sure could have used the money to pay for her husband's medication in his dying days.


   I also spoke to Racine Alderman Keith Fair.  He is on the Finance and Personnel Committee that unanimously voted to give France only a one year reimbursement.  Fair says he is in favor of giving her more money, yet when I asked him why he then voted to only give her one year, he really didn't have a good answer.  He had a lot of hemming and hawing, but no good answer.


   You can hear the whole report from Wisconsin's Afternoon News here.


   The full Racine Common Council will take up the issue on Tuesday.  Come on Racine do the right thing.


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