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Published March 04, 2009, 12:00 AM

Southside Flood Control Project’s focus turns to costs to residents

Until now, most of the talk about Fargo’s Southside Flood Control Project focused on its $161 million price tag.

By: Helmut Schmidt, INFORUM

Until now, most of the talk about Fargo’s Southside Flood Control Project focused on its $161 million price tag.

On Tuesday, the focus turned to the numbers that mean the most to home and business owners: What will the bill be for me?

The Southeast Cass Water Resource District offered city and township officials a look at the figures to be presented to the public in four hearings scheduled through April.

Sometime after those hearings, home and business owners in areas protected by the project will vote on whether to approve the project and the assessments, district officials said.

A $150,000 home on a quarter-acre lot (slightly bigger than Fargo’s average lot), would be assessed $3,014 if it had a 100 percent benefit from the project. That means the home is in the 100-year flood plain, or water would come within 25 feet of the main structure in a flood.

At 6.5 percent interest over 25 years, that homeowner would pay $247 a year over 25 years or nearly $6,200.

Project backers say that is much less than the cost of flood insurance. Fargo officials said that could be $30,000 or more.

Water resource district figures show residential properties benefiting from flood protection will pay an average of $2,311 in assessments, or $189 a year for the life of the assessment district.

Commercial and ag

A commercial property worth $500,000 on an acre of land would be assessed $8,330 if it’s in the 100-year flood plain. That means payments of $683 over 25 years, district figures show. Commercial properties would pay an average assessment of $15,014, or about $1,231 a year.

Undeveloped or agricultural property will be assessed $100 per acre, or $16,000 per quarter-section. Over 25 years, that property would be assessed $8.20 an acre annually or about $1,312 on a quarter-section annually.

The assessments are also graduated. A property may not get wet in a 100-year flood, officials said, but it will still benefit if roads and infrastructure around it are protected.

Properties in the 500-year flood plain may pay an assessment of 20 percent to 30 percent of what similar properties in the 100-year flood plain pay. Properties above the 500-year flood mark may pay 10 percent of the assessments.

Hearings set

Public hearings on the project’s proposed assessments are set for:

  • 7 p.m. March 16, Discovery Middle School, Fargo.
  • 7 p.m. March 18, Horace, N.D., Community Center.
  • 7 p.m. March 24, Discovery Middle School.
  • 7 p.m. April 2, Discovery Middle School.
  • Areas east of University Drive and along the river will have tens of millions of dollars in extraordinary costs to provide flood protection due to the need to build flood walls along the Red River, for home buyouts, and for a bypass and diversion system for the Wild Rice River.

    Residents and business owners in those areas will pay the same assessments as those properties east of University, officials said. Fargo may pay the remaining local cost share for those areas, perhaps through a sales tax, officials said.

    Of the $75 million local cost share of the project, Fargo taxpayers are expected to pay $39.2 million for direct benefits from the project, plus $26.9 million in indirect assessments (north of I-94) and extraordinary costs. In all, Fargo will pay about 91.8 percent of the local assessment cost share, water resource district figures show.

    Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583