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West Fargo tax base expected to slow

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West Fargo's tax base is projected to grow at a slower rate this year compared with 2007's rate.

It means this year's tax base could hit $67.9 million, which is an increase of 7.9 percent from $62.9 million in 2007, according to an annual report from the city assessor's office. It was presented to the City Commission, which met as the Board of Equalization. Mayor Rich Mattern and Commissioner Bryan Schultz were absent.

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The report shows West Fargo ranked fifth in the state for its 2007 tax base of $62.9 million. Fargo came was first with

$291 million, followed by Bismarck with $167 million, Grand Forks with $130 million and Minot with $90 million.

City Assessor Wanda Wilcox said the metro area is seeing both a 4 percent increase in home prices and in sales of single-family homes, twin houses, townhouses, condos and duplexes. The Fargo-Moorhead Area Association of Realtors attributes the area's strong housing market to a strong local economy, she said.

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Overall, existing residential property increased an average of 2 percent in property valuation this year while commercial property saw a 2.5 percent overall increase, the report said.

The projected 7.9 percent increase in the city's tax base in 2008 is more than 5 percent less than the increase of 13.63 percent in 2007. The highest increase the city saw was in 2006 with 23.7 percent.

New residential homes account for 28 percent of the growth in this year's tax base, the report said. New commercial development accounted for 10 percent and annexation 12 percent.

The board voted 3-0 to forward a list of residents concerned about their property tax bills to Cass County officials for appeal.

Wilcox encouraged residents to make arrangements so her department's workers can get into their residences so their homes can be assessed thoroughly.

Wilcox said the final tax base figure will be reached in September after the mill levy is determined. There could be changes in the tax base depending on adjustments such as assessment errors, tax exemptions yet to be filed and changes in utility fees.

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