The Special Assessment process can take more than one year depending on the type of project and time of year construction starts. The time period includes time needed for design, construction, and finally certification of the project cost to the properties that benefit from the project by the City Council. The City of Grand Forks has a Special Assessment Policy which governs aspects of a project which will be special assessed. To obtain a copy of the policy, Click Here.
Below is a summary of the process:
1. Determination of Need for a Project.
A project can be started in a number of different ways:
- Citizens or a developer can petition for a project to be done in their area,
- Growth of the City can necessitate the installation of infrastructure in the new areas,
- Maintenance work is needed to keep infrastructure from failing. Staff monitors this and tries to include planned maintenance in the City's 6-Year Capital Improvement Program,
- Infrastructure may reach the end of its normal life and need replacement.
2. Design and Construction Phase
City staff, sometimes with the assistance of consultants, designs the project including recommending to City Council which properties should be included in a special assessment district. Once City Council has approved the district, the Special Assessment Commission will review the project and district and assign benefit to each property within the district.
Competitive bids are solicited for the project. Bids are awarded and construction of the project occurs.
Property owners will receive notification throughout this process so that they can attend the public meetings where the project is discussed to ask questions or make comments on the project and its impact on their property. Initial notifications to property owners include estimated cost numbers. The property owners are updated as cost estimates become final actual project costs.
3. Certification of the Project
Property owners will receive a final notification which includes the actual cost to their property for the project. The notification also includes the date and time of the Special Assessment Commission hearings at which time they can appear before the commission and ask questions or request changes in the benefit for the projects assigned to their property. The hearings are normally held at the end of September in Council Chambers at City Hall.
The Special Assessment Commission will then forward their findings on all projects to be assessed that year to the City Council for certification. This typically occurs at the second City Council meeting in October each year. Property owners that still have questions or concerns that they do not feel were addressed at the Special Assessment Commission hearings can attend this meeting and make a final appeal to the City Council for a change in the amount of their assessment.
4. Prepayment of Special Assessments
Once City Council certifies the special assessments, property owners have the opportunity to pay the amount of special assessments certified to their property interest free during the last two weeks in October. Special Assessments that are not prepaid will be paid off in annual installments which are included on the property tax bill. The term of the repayment period is determined by the type of special assessment project. The interest rate that is charged for financing of the projects is determined at the time the bonds are sold to finance the project. Information on the term and interest rate are included in the final cost letter that property owners receive as well as in the table which shows special assessment information on the back of the property tax bill.
If you have questions on the special assessment process, please contact Emily in the Finance Department at (701) 746-2623 or by email.