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Published February 11, 2011, 08:41 PM

House Bill 1331 Could Raise Your Taxes

Grand Forks city leaders say a bill in the North Dakota Legislature could have you paying more taxes and utility fees. There are several special assessment bills being looked at, but committee members say House bill 1331 may end up hurting taxpayers in the end.

Grand Forks city leaders say a bill in the North Dakota Legislature could have you paying more taxes and utility fees.

There are several special assessment bills being looked at, but committee members say House bill 1331 may end up hurting taxpayers in the end.

Currently the city of Grand Forks can figure out who a project benefits and special assess those people.

"Really the special assessment is a tool to pay for projects, for infrastructure so we can help with development," Pete Haga from the Mayor's Office said.

North Dakota House Bill 1331 could change that, only allowing a city to assess 50 percent of the bill, and the city would have to find another way to pay for the other 50 percent.

Committee members say the way they assess people now works, and they don't want it to change.

"If we have a project in front of your home, we don't have to come to your home and get 50 percent of the money and then special assess the other half. We can actually special assess the whole amount and it goes on your tax bills and you pay that off over 20 years," city engineer Al Grasser said.

Grasser says that actually makes it more affordable for the taxpayer. This bill also could make future projects hard for both the city and developers, forcing the city to find the money somewhere.

"Our mechanisms to collect that may end up coming out of general fund taxes or utility fees or something like that and then you're getting money from people who may not even directly be benefited from the projects," Grasser said.

City leaders say finding that other 50 percent of the money would eventually come out of taxpayers' pockets and committee members are trying to make sure that doesn't happen.

"Anything that has an impact that makes it a little more difficult, that makes it more difficult for the building community. It makes it more difficult for the community in general for development," Haga said.

If you are interested in learning more, there is a legislative forum Saturday, February 12th at 9:30 a.m. at Grand Forks City Hall.

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