After the Delaware County Supervisors voted to abate a $63,000 tax assessment the City of Manchester says it owes on the property that now houses the new jail, the Manchester City Council has signaled that it’s time to take the issue to court.
At a previous meeting, the council voted unanimously against a request to wave the assessment, which prompted the Supervisors’ most recent action on the matter July 13.
City Administrator Tim Vick, who attended the Supervisors meeting, said the issue really boils down to being a difference of opinion between the two bodies, but regardless both need to maintain the working relationship they currently have moving forward.
The council was more or less faced with two options: accept the Supervisors decision to abate the tax or ask a judge to make a determination on the matter.
City Attorney Jim Peters said he has already spoken to Delaware County Attorney John Bernau about working together to get the case expedited.
Peters explained to the council that normally this type of trial is two parts — during the first part, the two parties would argue about the facts and try to convince the judge of their story and the second part would be arguing the law itself. However, in this case, Peters thinks they should be able to skip the first part as the facts of this case are pretty black and white.
“I don’t expect that to be a problem because I don’t think anyone disputes the facts,” Peters said.
In previous discussions, the council signaled it wanted to have the Iowa Attorney General give an opinion on this matter, but now that it appears that isn’t going to happen, Peters advised the council would have to be the ones to file a lawsuit against the Supervisors if it wanted to see the dispute resolved.
After hearing a consensus from the council, Peters said he will begin drafting a petition that he will also have the city’s bond counsel review.
“We just need to get an answer, and I think (going to court) is the most civil way to do it and get it done quickly,” Peters said.
But, Peters said even if both attorneys attempt to get the case expedited, he’s not sure how soon the matter will be resolved as the courts are still dealing with COIVD 19 related restrictions.
“But this may very well be (a case) we could do by Zoom because they are no witnesses,” Peters said.