#AsktheCity: Special Assessments
What is a special assessment?
A special assessment is a charge to a property for the cost of making a public improvement that directly benefits the property or to recover the cost of services. State law permits local governments to assess for benefits or recover these costs through the adoption of ordinances. If unpaid, special assessments can be added to a property’s tax bill.
What types of things can I be assessed for?
Common special assessments include street and utility improvements, delinquent sewer or storm drainage bills, delinquent garbage bills, false alarms and maintenance costs on private property.
How much can I be assessed for?
The city’s special assessment policy lays out assessment guidelines for public improvements. Assessments can range from 100 percent for new construction to 30 percent for reconstruction.
For unpaid services, the city can assess the remaining balance, plus administrative fees.
Why doesn’t the city pay for street improvements out of its general fund?
The city funds the majority portion of public improvement projects from its levy. However, special assessments provide a more fair and equitable manner of recovering improvement costs since adjacent properties are most likely to benefit from the improvements. This practice helps keep the general tax levy lower.
How do I know if my property has an assessment?
Cities must make special effort to notify property owners of special assessment via direct mailings and public hearings. Residents can also look up pending and levied assessments using the eProperty tool on the city website. It is highly recommended you check for assessments when purchasing a property.