The North Dakota Supreme Court has found that a special assessment of North Dakota property tax was valid since the assessment was based on an appropriate method using the size of the properties. The benefits to each individual property did not need to be taken into account.
A city resolution created an improvement district, and the taxpayers owned property abutting one of the main streets involved in the major reconstruction. The reconstruction included paving, replacing water mains and sanitary sewers, installing additional storm sewers, installing street lights, and widening a bridge.
The taxpayers argued that the use of a formula based on front footage or square footage to determine the benefits to property within the improvement district was improper. Instead, the taxpayers contended that the benefits to each individual property must be assessed within the improvement district. However, the court noted that the argument that use of such a formula was not sufficiently individualized has been rejected in the past in numerous cases. In addition, the court found that the case cited by the taxpayers, Robertson Lumber Co. v. City of Grand Forks, where the benefits to each individual property had to be determined, was based on the statutory scheme in place over 100 years ago. As a result, the court found that Robertson is no longer valid precedent to the extent that the decision was based on statutory, legal, and factual premises that no longer exist.
D&P Terminal v. City of Fargo, Supreme Court of North Dakota, No. 2012 ND 149, July 18, 2012, ¶200-794