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West Fargo School District to protest another Horace assessment that came in over $100K higher than expected

Business manager Levi Bachmeier said the special assessment district will help pay for the city of Horace's improvements to 81st Avenue, the east-west road along the southern boundary of Horace High School. and a small connector to road to Lakeview Drive.

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Construction is ongoing along southern Sheyenne Street in Horace, near 72nd Avenue. Wendy Reuer/The Pioneer

WEST FARGO — Once again, the West Fargo School District will be objecting to a special assessment projection by the city of Horace after the district received a bill for $100,000 more than what was expected.

The West Fargo School board granted staff the ability to formally protest the assessment at a special meeting Monday, Oct. 18. Business Manager Levi Bachmeier said the special assessment district will help pay for the city of Horace's improvements to 81st Avenue, the east-west road along the southern boundary of Horace High School, and a small connector road to Lakeview Drive.

"We've been doing our due diligence to make sure we are communicating with the city of Horace," Bachmeier said.

Horace initially estimated special assessments to be about $1.02 million in July. But Bachmeier said the school district received the letter of adjustment Monday and "the cost had increased another $100,000 without justification. So we are hoping to continue the conversation with the city of Horace."

The new special assessment estimate is $1.15 million.

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The School District faced a similar situation last year. Horace initially estimated about $4.7 million in special assessments, but the bill came in for about $4.9 million to cover four projects: Lakeview Drive and 79th Avenue, the 76th Avenue roundabout, 63rd Street and the Club Creek First Addition.

Bachmeier said he was not given an explanation of why the final assessment increased by roughly $200,000, but it appeared to be related to the 63rd Street project, which the school district found to be one of the most egregious estimations last fall. There is an open field next to 63rd street that will likely be developed in the future.

Developers often share the burden of special assessments for infrastructure that allows a new development in a formerly rural area.

"All district residents would essentially be paying for that subsidization, particularly longtime residents of Horace," he said at the time.

The school district increased its mill levy in the 2022 budget, largely to prepare for nearly $5 million in special assessments in Horace in addition to other assessment bills.

Bachmeier said Monday the district will try to communicate with Horace to find out why the discrepancy exists.

"At best, there was a failure to communicate on the city's part to help us understand the why behind the increase in costs and at worst, an unsubstantiated adjustment to the school district's share," he said.

As the West Fargo editor, Wendy Reuer covers all things West Fargo for The Forum and oversees the production of the weekly Pioneer.
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