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Terminology related to special assessments

Special assessment district (improvement district): A geographic area designated to pay for infrastructure costs for a specific project. Properties within the district each pay a portion of the total project cost. Special assessment districts are approved by the City Commission after notice is given to the property owners in the district (before the construction work starts). The district is subject to the provision of North Dakota Century Code 40-27 (PDF link). 

Special assessment levy: Total dollar amount assessed against a property for its share of the total improvement district project cost. The levy amount can be paid in full or over time.

Benefit: The added value the improvement brings to the lot/property (i.e., new water service, improved storm drain, new street).

Front footage: The number of lineal feet a property occupies on the street (measured across the front of a property).

Spread: Allocating the cost of financing a construction project among benefiting parties. Special assessment loans are typically set up using a normal amortization schedule with a term of 18 to 25 years, depending on the project. Interest rates vary with market interest rates.

Proposed special assessments:  Proposed special assessments are associated with future projects where actual timelines and costs are unknown. A special assessment moves from "proposed" to "pending" when a project is actually scheduled to proceed and a cost estimate has been developed.

Pending special assessment: Estimated special assessment for a project. A special assessment is "pending" until the assessment is "certified" to be spread by the City Commission.  A special assessment is not final until it is certified—pending specials are estimates only. A special assessment will be listed as pending from the date a homeowner is first notified of construction through cost verification at the end of the project and allocation of costs ("spreading") at hearings of the Special Assessment Commission and City Commission.

Certified special assessments: Annual installment payment due on the outstanding special assessments balance for your property. The City of Fargo calculates the certified special assessments in October of each year and forwards this information to Cass County Government, which acts as the collection agent. Payments of certified special assessments are made directly to Cass County and are due by February 15 of each year (with property tax payment).

Uncertified special assessments: The principal balance outstanding on any special assessment that has already been levied against a property. Each year, this balance is reduced by the amount certified for annual payment. Uncertified special assessments can be paid off at any time by remitting payment directly to the City of Fargo Auditor's Office Special Assessments Division.