The state of North Dakota Century Code, Chapter 40 authorizes cities to use special assessments to fund infrastructure improvement projects.
Special assessments are not property taxes. Special assessments divide the cost of an infrastructure project between the properties that will benefit from the improvements the construction brings to the area. The various types of special assessment improvement projects include: sidewalks, street paving and lighting, water mains, storm and sanitary sewers, and flood plain projects.
Special assessments are not the only way to fund needed projects for our infrastructure. The City of Williston also uses federal and state funding, bonds, sales tax and general fund money as resources for development.
Special Assessment Process
How do we determine that a project is necessary? There are a variety of ways, such as:
Individual Petitions Property owners interested in starting a petition for work in their area should contact the City Engineer's Office and they will explain the process and how to get started.
Growth As Williston grows, the installation of infrastructure is sometimes necessary in the new areas.
Maintenance Maintaining our infrastructure is an important part of the City's Capital Improvements Plan. City staff actively plans for the replacement and possible upgrades to systems as they age and reach the end of normal life cycle.
After a project has been determined to be needed, a special assessment district is created. The work to create a special district involves the City Commission; the City Engineer; the assistance of special consultants, if needed; the City Auditor; the Special Assessment Commission; and the Williams County Tax Equalization Board.
The project will enter a design and construction phase, competitive bids are solicited and awarded and the construction of the project begins.
Property owners are notified of the project and the cost assigned to their property. Property owners may attend any public hearings of the Special Assessment Commission to ask questions or request changes in the benefit for the projects assigned to their property. The hearings are normally held once per year, in the fall.
Questions regarding the payment of special assessments can be directed to the City Auditor's office at 701 577-8100.
Special Assessment Commission
The President of the City Commission appoints three residents of the city to serve as members of a Special Assessment Commission in accordance with North Dakota Century Code Chapter 40-23. Special Assessment Commissioners are appointed for six year terms and serve along with the City Auditor. They meet as needed to review projects and assign benefits to properties.
Current Special Assessment Commission members are:
Abutting Property: A property directly adjacent to public improvements.
Access Easement: Allows owners of property who do not have direct access to a public street to pass through the adjoining land to access their property.
Adjustment: A change to the area or front footage of a benefited property to more accurately represent the true benefit that property receives from an improvement in comparison to other properties in the assessment area.
Arterial Street: A main street that gathers traffic from collector and local streets. Arterial Streets are designated in the City's Transportation Plan. Arterial Streets may also be designated by the City Commission for the purposes of allocating Special Assessments. The term Arterial Street is synonymous with Arterial Road and Arterial Highway.
Arterial Street Service District: An area serviced by a network of Local and Collector Streets that are connected to an Arterial Street.
Collector Street: A street that gathers local traffic and funnels it to arterial streets. Collector Streets are designated in the City's Transportation Plan. Collector Streets may also be designated by the City Commission for the purposes of allocating Special Assessments. The term Collector Street is synonymous with Collector Road and Collector Highway.
Equivalent Lot: Where each lot or property is treated the same regardless of its size, shape or length.
Front Footage: The number of lineal feet a property occupies on the street (measured across the front of a property).
1. Long Side Footage: the number of lineal feet along the long side of a property located at the intersection of two streets.
2. Short Side Footage: the number of lineal feet along the short side of a property located at the intersection of two streets.
3. Rear Footage: the number of lineal feet a property occupies on an alley (measured across the rear of the property).
Improvement of Boulevards and Other Public Places: Includes those items listed in North Dakota Century Code§ 40-22-01(3).
Local Street: A street other than an arterial or collector street. The term Local Street is synonymous with Local Road and Local Highway.
Municipal Street System: Includes those items listed in North Dakota Century Code § 40-22-01(2).
Private Drive: A roadway, whether named or not, that leads from a public street to one or more private properties and is owned and maintained by private individuals or organizations rather than the City.
Square Footage: The aerial extent of a property measured in square feet.
Unit: A measurement or figure determined by the Special Assessment Commission as a means to divide a special improvement district, e.g., for a specific project all parcels less than 7,500 square feet may be considered one unit or an Equivalent Lot.
Water Supply System or Sewerage System: Includes those items listed in North Dakota Century Code§ 40-22-01(1).