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Wendy Reuer, Published November 27 2011

Moorhead City Council to hear feedback on proposed flood assessments

MOORHEAD – Residents will get a chance today to tell City Council members what they think of three proposals to assess properties for permanent flood protection.

Earlier this year, the council agreed to a $37 million flood protection plan that includes mitigation. Of that, the council must bond for $4.2 million, which will be paid back through special assessments starting in 2013 for 20 years.

“That’s going to make a difference for people if they know it won’t be payable until then (2013),” Councilwoman Nancy Otto said.

The council is using a special assessment district similar to that used in 2009, where the benefiting area was established to include properties that are served by the west side sanitary sewer interceptor.

The Engineering Department has proposed three assessment options within this district:

Second Ward Councilwoman Brenda Elmer said she wants to see the cost of assessments spread out across the city as far as possible.

“I know we asked if we could spread the assessment out beyond 20th Street, but they have to justify that it is a benefiting area,” Elmer said.

She said a larger flood than the record one seen in 2009 could send water as far as if not farther than 20th Street. She said she doesn’t like an elevation-based model.

“I think we’re one community and we shouldn’t be pinpointing dots all throughout the map of Moorhead for flood protection. I’m not supportive of that concept,” she said.

To help minimize the impact of the project on property taxes, the city will defer 2013 street projects so that funds generated through the property tax levy for flood mitigation will not result in a net increase in property tax collection.

Individual impacts on properties have not yet been calculated. For a typical single-family residential lot, the total assessment would range from a low of about $200 to a high of about $800. The minimum area assessment will be $200, and the maximum area will be capped at five acres, or up to $16,000.

Elmer said she suspects a middle ground will be found among the three models tonight.

“I’m sure it will end up somewhere in the middle,” she said. “We need a fair way to pay for this. Hopefully this can get us pretty close to being what we need.”

In other business today:

Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530