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Published April 14 2010

West Fargo residents question rise in property values

More than a half-dozen West Fargo property owners voiced frustrations Tuesday night on what they consider unfair increases this year to the value of their properties.

The West Fargo Commission convened as the Board of Equalization to field property owners’ concerns over recent reassessments to property value, which could impact future taxes. Several property owners who attended Tuesday’s meeting said they planned to appeal to the county board.

In general, residents said their properties were unfairly valued as compared to others near them, but part of the concern came from the fact that not every property is re-evaluated annually.

The value of each commercial property is typically reviewed every four years, while it can be up to 15 years between complete reassessments for residential properties.

Because of West Fargo’s tremendous growth in the past decade, newer property values were updated before existing properties, so West Fargo assessors are working to equalize property values throughout the city by systematically looking at different areas, city Assessor Wanda Wilcox said.

The Main Avenue corridor is one area where land values have increased significantly in recent years. Some businesses that hadn’t seen a reassessment in a long time were hit with higher value increases this year, which some business owners voiced concerns about.

Also, in the Sheyenne Park subdivision, residents had complaints.

Wilcox said residents previously voiced concerns about inequities in property values in the subdivision, so the city sent out questionnaires this year to determine which residences had finished basements since the last assessment, which changes a home’s value.

Sheyenne Park resident Alan Redenius said his home value is too high compared to neighbors who have lower home values but more upgrades to their property.

“It comes down to an issue of fairness,” he said.

Sheyenne Park is among the few West Fargo subdivisions where city assessors will personally re-appraise property this summer in the continued effort to equalize values, Wilcox said.

City officials said they sympathized with residents concerns.

“With our staffing, we do the best job we can to get to them on a cyclical basis, and, yes, we’ll have that gap here and there, where we catch up with them on a two- or three-year period,” West Fargo Administrator Jim Brownlee said. “Unfortunately, there’ll be that time where you get a 10 percent increase, just because we haven’t been there in five years.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541