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Paying for Fargo's Infrastructure Work

In Fargo, the City pays contractors for infrastructure projects as they are built. Then, about once a year, the City pools the cost of all the construction projects that need to be financed and sells a Special Assessment Revenue Bond:

  • A bond is like a loan - it has an interest rate, a term and a principal amount, and it must be repaid in full.
  • The bond is repaid with the special assessment payments that property owners make each year.

When a project creates a significant "public" benefit, the City of Fargo may assume a portion of the cost of the improvement, either by incurring new debt or by using other available resources. The portion of the project cost that the City will assume varies and must be consistent with the policies adopted by the City Commission and contained in the Capital Improvement Plan.

However, in many cases, the cost of capital improvements and infrastructure upgrades are charged either partially or totally to the property owners who receive the benefit through the "special assessment" process.

  • In order to identify how special assessments are assessed to property owners, Fargo established an Infrastructure Funding Policy (PDF) that illustrates how infrastructure is paid for for when replacement/rehabilitation is done or new developments are constructed.
  • The Arterial Assessment District Map (PDF) shows the breakdown of the Assessment Districts for Minor, Principle and Collector Arterial roads. The shaded areas on these maps indicate which arterial roads individual properties would be subject to receiving special assessments.
  • For more information, please contact the Special Assessments Department using the Contact Information section in the right margin of this page.

How Other Cities Fund Infrastructure Improvements

All of the communities in the Fargo-Moorhead metro area use some type of "special assessment" to pay for infrastructure. In 2004, the Fargo Special Assessment Task Force, chaired by Commissioner Mike Williams, found that infrastructure costs were very similar across the entire metro area.

A "special assessment" is often used as a financing tool in North Dakota and Minnesota communities. Where special assessments are not used, the cost of installing infrastructure is usually paid by either the City (through general property tax revenue) or by the developer.