Special Assessment Districts

When the city Engineering Department determines what work needs to be done, they create a special assessment district, which includes all property that will benefit from the improvement project. The Board of City Commissioners approves each special assessment district. The district is then published in the city’s official newspaper, the Bismarck Tribune, two times over a two-week period.

Protesting the District

Property owners have the right to protest the district when the improvements are not health-related, like those involving sewer and water. If it’s not a health-related improvement and 51% of the owners by area, in the district protest the work, the project is cancelled.

District Approval

Once the district is approved, the City Engineering Department takes bids on the project. When the project is completed, the construction costs are assessed against the benefiting property on ratios that depend on the work being done:
  • Storm sewer - Assessed based on the square feet of the lot
  • Sewer and water - Assessed based on lot front footage
  • Paving and street lights - Assessed based on a per parcel/lot 
  • Sidewalk, curb, and gutter - Based on the actual amount of sidewalk, curb, and gutter
See the approved Special Assessment Policy here.

Once the assessments are made on properties, they are published in the newspaper twice during a two-week period. Property owners have the right to protest before the Special Assessment Commission, a three-member board appointed by the City Commissioners. The Special Assessment Commission’s job is to make sure the assessments are spread fairly among properties, not whether the work should be done. If the property owner’s protest is unsuccessful, the owner may appeal that decision to the City Commission.


Special Assessments may be paid in full, or they will be billed to the property owner in installments. The installments are spread over seven to 15 years, depending on the type of improvement. Notice of the installment due each year is sent to property owners on their property tax statements. The installment is paid along with the property taxes to the Burleigh County Auditor's Office.