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City takes action to send request to county board

West Fargo City Commissioners voted 3-2 Monday night to make no recommendation on an abatement application request from West Fargo resident Doug Buehre that will now be forwarded to the Cass County Commission for their consideration and action.

Buehre appeared before the board to present his case asking them to approve a reduced value on his residential home at 506 4th Ave. N.W. for 2008 and 2009 based on a reduction the state board of equalization granted him on his 2010 valuation.

He said his property has been over taxed and the state board verified that by reducing his value from $150,800 to $138,100. He is making the same claim for previous years based on that decision, asking for a refund of $253 in 2008 and $210 for 2009.

City Assessor Wanda Wilcox informed the commission that the value assessed for Buehre's property for 2008 and 2009 in her opinion is correct and that the appeal should be denied.

She stated "Neither the Office of the State Tax Commissioner nor the State Board of Equalization has any authority over the abatement proceedings. Any current year valuations determined by them have nothing to do with any future or prior year valuations." There was also a North Daktoa Supreme Case cited that ruled adjustments made to current year valuations is not an indication of error in earlier appraisals.

Wilcox added that she believes that the assessment valuation of Buehre's property is accurate when compared to many other West Fargo properties that have sold for $150,000. "There is market support to indicate the valuation is correct for 2008 & 2009," she said.

Commissioner Mark Simmons made the motion to pass along the request to the Cass County Commission and let them decide with no recommendation one way or the other from the West Fargo City Commission.

Mayor Rich Mattern and Commissioner Lou Bennett voted 'yes,' while Commissioners Mike Thorstad and Duane Hanson voted 'no.'

Thorstad said he voted 'no' because he didn't feel comfortable sending it on for consideration without a commission recommendation one way or the other.

Hanson voiced similar sentiments, saying as the new commission he was trying to fully absorb and understand all the information presented.

The item will now be forwarded to the Cass County Commission unless a request is made by one of the three commissioners who voted 'yes' to revisit the matter. Mayor Mattern said on Tuesday morning, he intends to bring the item back to the commission at their Dec. 20 meeting. In retrospect he said, "I really think we do need to take a stand. We are setting a precedent if we leave it up to the county. We need to take care of the decision locally first."

In other action, the Commission:

-approved second and final reading of a rezoning request for part of Lot 2, Block 3 of Eagle Run 8th Addition from Planned Unit Development to Limited Multiple Dwellings and approval of the land use amendment from office park to medium density residential;

-awarded the contract for Storm Sewer Improvement District No. 4047, Phase II, for South Pond at the Reserve 1st Addition, to Northern Improvement Co., Fargo, with their low bid of $480,695.36. The engineer's estimate was $622,105.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the West Fargo City Commission will take place Monday, Dec. 20, at 5:30 p.m., in the commission chambers at West Fargo City Hall. All meetings are open to the public.