A hearing on proposed city assessments against residents of The Oaks subdivision was postponed Thursday night after the city was informed that one of three board members had resigned.

A hearing on proposed city assessments against residents of The Oaks subdivision was postponed Thursday night after the city was informed that one of three board members had resigned.

"We learned just a very short time ago that one of our equalization board members is unable to continue on the board," city administrator Tim Boland said. "After consulting with the city's law director and the city's bond counsel for this project, we have determined that the citizens appealing the Oaks assessment are entitled to a three-member board."

Boland said the city would advise members when a new board member is appointed and the hearing rescheduled.

The Oaks subdivision has been the site of an ongoing dispute between the city and a number of residents who are unhappy with proposed assessments of nearly $14,000 per household to pay for sanitary-sewer construction. Residents argue that the project has been a municipal obligation since the 1960s.

Nine households have appealed assessments of $13,713 issued against 28 parcels, along with five additional residents who voluntarily opted into the project.

The total project cost is estimated at $502,000, with the city agreeing to pay 10 percent, or about $50,200. An additional tap fee of $3,150 that the city customarily charges new households for connecting to the sanitary system, which would have raised total household costs to nearly $17,000, has been waived.

Boland said the current project is a result of a condition by Ohio EPA to the city's wastewater-treatment permit.

"The city has no choice but implement that mandate," Boland said.

Under Ohio law, residents may object whenever a municipality assesses property owners for such improvements as sewers. When such objections are filed, the city appoints an "assessment equalization board," which hears the objections and then makes recommendations to city council. The board has the authority only to make recommendations, with the final decision about the assessments resting with council.

"After the city adopts a resolution of necessity for the project, residents have an opportunity to appeal," Boland said. "The Ohio Revised Code establishes the process of establishing an assessment equalization board."

Boland said the city couldn't afford to pay for the project directly and that the city's contribution of 10 percent of is significantly more than a minimum 2-percent contribution required under Ohio law.

The nine residents who object to the assessments live on Laurel Lane and Oak Canyon and Hickory drives.

Resident Tom Kipp said he had spent hours reviewing minutes of council meetings extending back to the 1960s and found repeated promises by council to address sewer construction.

Resident Scott Starzyk said residents would be willing to compromise, but the city should bear significantly more cost.

"We've been working on this for a year-and-a-half, and we keep finding more improprieties by the city happening since 1967," Starzyk said. "As residents, we understand the city's position because we're part of the city. But we got together and developed a cost that would be a $10,000 cap for each resident. But the assessment cost keeps rising. They're still taking ownership of the project (and) then charging that to us."