South Fargo residents receive letters notifying them of overcharges on special assessments

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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) Some south Fargo residents received letters over the weekend about being overcharged on special assessments.

The letters we reviewed were sent to Stonebridge residents notifying them of an error "in the distribution of this assessment."

Specials assessments are what the city uses to pay for infrastructure projects and it has caused division among city leaders.

Last week in a 3-2 vote the Fargo City Commission lowered the interest rate on specials from one percent to three quarters of one percent.

The proposed move was called a money laundering scheme by Commissioner Tony Gehrig.

The majority of those we spoke to who received a letter said they do see value in the projects that special assessments are paying for. However, a handful said the city should’ve gotten it right the first time.

“You're just kind of sending out a bad message to everybody, like what are you doing,” Jeff Rotar, who received a follow up letter, said.

Rotar said what bothers him the most about specials is the mystery of the process.

“Special assessments…are not organized and every year they come across as a letter in the mail. You just don't expect it,” Rotar said.

Rotar also said in his view they're undemocratic.

“With property taxes or you know levies for schools and things like that, I think that's more straight forward and people can vote on things like that,” Rotar said. “Whereas an assessment you just get something in the mail and you're supposed to pay for that.”

The special for Stonebridge property owners will pay for bike paths along 40th avenue south as well as a bridge modification and street lighting project.

While many consider it an unnecessary bill, Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney has said specials prevent higher property taxes.