What are Special Assessments?
A special assessment is a levy on a property to defray the cost of public improvements. Special assessments are not the same as property taxes. There are a wide variety of infrastructure improvements that can be assessed, including construction and reconstruction of:
- Sanitary and water services
- Drainage improvements
- Flood mitigation projects
Minnesota Statutes Chapter 429 grants cities the authority to use special assessments as a mechanism to finance a broad range of public improvements. Not all improvements are paid for in this manner. Others are paid for using the City's general fund or by using general obligation bonds.
City's Assessment Policy
The current assessment policy was adopted in 2011 and is used for determining benefits to be levied for improvement project. The total project front foot costs multiplied times the property front footage will determine the assessments for all improvements except for storm sewer. The front of a corner lot shall be based on the shorter of the two outside property lines.
For Water and Sanitary Sewer Projects:
- Rectangular Lots - the front footage will determine the assessment
- Odd-shaped lots - the front and determined rear line footage will be added together and divided by two. To determine the location and footage of the rear line, follow the shortest side-yard lot line from the front property line to it's termination point and extend it either to the right or left with a line that's parallel or almost parallel to the front property line. Both side-yard lines shall never exceed 140 feet.
For Storm Sewer Projects:
- The total square footage of the lot will be used to calculate the amount of benefit assessed, with the exception of river lots. On river lots the storm sewer benefit will be calculated in square footage to the extent that it does not drain in the river, except that it should be never be less than 140 feet deep. The total project square footage will be multiplied by the determined lot square footage.
For Curb, Gutter, Paving, and Soil Cement Projects:
- The assessment could consist of both front and end benefits or only one.
- Rectangular Lots - Assessments will be based on front footage for both front and end benefits.
- Odd-shaped Lots - The front and determined rear line footage will be added together and divided by two. To determine the location and footage of the rear line, follow the shortest side-yard line from the front property line to it's termination point and extend it either to the right or left with a line that's parallel to the front property line. Both side-yard lot lines shall never exceed 140 feet.
- Front benefit is calculated on the front footage of the lot.
- End benefit will be assessed halfway down the block from the side street based on the front footage.
- For State Aid Reconstruction - property owner will pay 30% of all applicable front and end benefit reconstruction based on the current criteria.
- New construction property owner will be assessed 100% of all new construction.
Minnesota Statute 429.101 lists the other items that can be assessed as long as it is allowed by city ordinance which for East Grand Forks includes the following:
- Delinquent Water and Light Bill
- The cost of mowing on properties that violate the city ordinance and are not addressed within the time period allowed by the ordinance.
- The cost of snow removal on properties that violate the city ordinance and are not addressed within the time period allowed by the ordinance.
A List of Properties with Special Assessments is available, and if a property you are looking at purchasing has special assessments. The most up-to-date report is listed usually in the spring of each year. Contact the Administration Office if you have questions.
Further Questions If you have further questions about special assessments or the process please contact the Administration Office at 218-773-2483 or send an email.