Horace, West Fargo Public Schools at odds over special assessments as residents face new taxes

This could mean new taxes for those in the West Fargo school district
Published: Sep. 17, 2020 at 6:37 PM CDT
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HORACE, N.D. (Valley News Live) - There’s an old saying that goes there are two certain things in life, death and taxes.

A decision over in Horace could determine how much Cass County residents will have to fork over from their pocketbooks.

West Fargo Public Schools was in Horace Thursday at an assessment commission meeting to protest an assessment for three of its buildings that’s it’s calling unfair.

“You should really send this back to the drawing board and let’s continue to have some conversation to make sure everyone shoulders the weight of these taxes,” West Fargo Public Schools Business Manager Levi Bachmeier said.

According to the district, it’s having to bear the brunt of the cost for construction in the area.

The West Fargo school district built two new schools in Horace. One of them, Heritage Middle School, opened last month to students.

The buildings are being assessed at 150 percent of the standard assessment rate. A cost the district said it will have to pass on to taxpayers.

“It’s Horace, West Fargo, portions of Fargo, Harwood, [and] Reile’s Acres. Anyone who sends a student to West Fargo Public Schools inside our district boundaries, does have to pay a portion of our special assessment costs,” Bachmeier said.

But, the city of Horace is pushing back.

City Administrator Brenton Holper said the district decided to build its middle and high schools in a very undeveloped area.

“The 150 percent came from roads being built to accommodate their traffic...flows. The demands of what they would have on those roads. Buses for example,” Holper said.

A ton of work reportedly went into paving roads and creating a roundabout along County Road 17.

Holper added that the cost should not have come as a surprise.

“They were agreeable to the assessment in previous interactions, meetings with them recognizing that they are the primary drivers for a lot of these infrastructure improvements,” Holper said.

A building the city of Horace assessed was the new Horace High School, which is scheduled to open in the fall of 2021.

At Thursday’s meeting, the assessment commission didn’t take any action on the district’s concerns.

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