Grand Forks could lessen burden posed by special assessments

“Nobody likes special assessments.”

It’s a phrase I’ve heard over and over and one that made it into the street maintenance story I posted today.

While researching that story, I remembered something city staff had mentioned back in June: Upcoming changes to the city’s special assessment policy.

In a nutshell, special assessments are taxes levied against a property owner to pay for a project (street repair, watermain replacement and the like) if the property falls into the assessment’s district.

If you want a more in depth explanation, click here.

It sounds boring but if you’re a property owner then it’s probably safe to assume you know what these are and loathe them.

The city knows you hate specials. It’s no secret.

With this in mind, proposed changes to the special assessment policy that could have property owners paying less could be before the Grand Forks City Council as early as January.

This chart sums up what was presented in June. The percentages are the portion of a project residents in the special assessment district would pay for:

A chart showing proposed special assessment percentage changes for neighborhoods in the city. Photo credit: City of Grand Forks.

As you can see, the collector streets new construction percentage goes up while others decrease to nothing. The drops in the arterial street funding scenario count on the city more of its state money to cover the costs of construction.

The new collector street percentage would pull from larger special assessment districts. You can see an example of one change illustrated in the image below.

Maps comparing examples of existing special assessment districts in Grand Forks to proposed changes that could come about if the City Council votes to approve them next year. Photo credit: City of Grand Forks.

During my time as city reporter, I know specials created a lot of bad blood between residents and the city. It will be interesting to see what these changes could do to that relationship if they are successful in lowering the amount residents pay.

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