Cracks in Mapleton sidewalk assessments

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MAPLETON, N.D. (Valley News Live) - The city of Mapleton has long debated the way sidewalks—and other amenities—are paid for. According to residents, the town has changed its stance on who should pay for new sidewalks several times.

It's a story brought to our attention on the whistleblower hotline.
The issue was recently discussed heavily at the last city council meeting at the end of October.

The city decided to pay for a mistake it apparently made: only sending letters to some residents, citing assessments for sidewalks that the city had already put in.

The amount the city said it would cover comes out to at least $30,000. But now it's planning on reassessing everything again. And residents say they're tired of being jerked around.
Adam Mueller's lived in Mapleton for about 10 years. He says the town's always charging for something.

"The specials just kept coming with the park,” he said, “and then they re-did the street, then the water tower. And it just kept compiling and compiling and people were getting upset because they didn't know this when they moved in. I would say probably 50 percent of the neighborhood had no idea."

And now it's about sidewalks. Residents had the option to pay for their own sidewalks or let the city do it.

Residents like Mueller say the assessments came out unevenly—and unfairly.

"Since our cul-de-sac has a park in it, they decided to put it down one side of the cul-de-sac so all of our neighbors across the street got assessed,” he said. “We did not."

That left some homeowners, like Mueller, with no assessment—and others with large assessments: like Chantel Oftelie.

She lives just a couple doors down from Mueller and also has no sidewalk. But her home was assessed differently.

"The sidewalks that were built by our house were only commons sidewalks, but we were assessed for that whole cost," she said.
Her family's assessment was around $2,600—the second largest of all the residents.

Resident Adam Mueller says that even though he wasn't assessed any amount, he'd rather everyone just gets fair treatment.

"Yeah it would have cost us more money,” he said, “but I felt if they would have just done it and assessed the entire development, the same assessment across the board, it would have been a lot easier for people to swallow that."

A city council member tells Valley News Live that the city recognizes the assessments were done unfairly and disproportionately. He says that's why they're going back to the drawing board. While he wouldn't disclose the city’s next plans, he says he and others will crunch the numbers and make sure they come back with fair assessments for everyone.

Those assessments are not due now until 2018.

Valley News Live will continue following this issue over sidewalks in Mapleton.