Fargo homeowners worry they won't have chance to appeal property value increases
FARGO — Eighth Street South in Fargo is home to many historic properties, including the home of Matt Myers and Jaqueline Bussie.
Recently, they were shocked by a letter they got from City Hall regarding their property value.
"To get something from the city saying 'Oh, we've increased your assessment of your property value in a time of a pandemic by 30 or 40 percent' — that's very painful," Bussie said.
The paper from the city shows the home value changed from roughly $243,000 to about $317,000 — a $74,000 rise.
City assessors revalued homes on Eighth Street, in north Fargo and near the downtown area during the summer, months prior to the coronavirus pandemic.
They said the homes have been valued on a year-to-year basis, but some values needed to be corrected more than others, which is where some sharp rises came from.
With the annual city appeal hearing with the Board of Equalization coming up on Tuesday, April 14, Bussie and Myers fear they and their neighbors won't all get the chance to get their messages out there.
"We would have to risk our safety and our health to go to this public hearing and have our voices be heard," Bussie said. "This is the only public opportunity to appeal."
City officials said they haven't considered changing the date of the meeting, but they will follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guidelines.
That means people who want to appeal in person have to go into the commission chambers one at a time and limit the number of people inside to 10.
Officials said property owners can also submit appeals virtually, but Myers said he hasn't been told exactly how to do that.
"If (the city's) not going to do that and have a method which is fair, I think (the meeting) is a low priority right now," he said. "This to me is not something that should be rushed through."
That's why the couple wants the city to push the meeting back until after the pandemic slows down, so everyone in their neighborhood and beyond can get a chance to talk, especially those who are behind on payments and those who own small businesses.
"We're actually putting this added stress on people as a city," Bussie said. "I think we're better than that."
As it currently stands, the appeal hearing will happen on Tuesday at 7:30 a.m. at City Hall.