It isn’t so much what they did but how they did it. La Crosse’s city hall stepped in it this week when they sent out notices of huge assessment increases to property owners. The big jump sent homeowners into a panic, and led to a flood of calls of complaint to city hall. Many fear the hike in assessments will lead to a big jump in their property tax bill. That isn’t yet certain, but Mayor Tim Kabat recently pointed out that if the city can’t rely on a hike in the room tax to fund the La Crosse Center expansion, that could lead to the highest property tax rate in the city’s history. Not very comforting. The city should have put some spin on the message, and given people a heads up the hike was coming. Mayor Kabat says he takes responsibility for that, as he should. They should have given homeowners a heads up that this was coming, along with an explanation of why. They could have told us that even if assessments went up a whopping 30%, because homes had not been reassessed in ten years, that is an average annual increase of just 3%. That might have calmed the frenzy a bit. Unfortunately, this is typical in city hall. Just ram things down our throat without trying to get any buy-in from the public. We saw that with the bump outs on Cass Street, and plans to create pay to park on some public streets. It gives the impression they can just do what they want, without regard for how people feel about it.