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Gehrig: My response to letter from the Chamber about special assessments

Tony Gehrig, candidate for Fargo City Commission Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

Special assessments are a dramatic burden on the vast majority of Fargo residents. These residents are the patrons of the businesses represented by the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce, which makes the Chamber's response to the prospect of ending special assessments all the more perplexing. In short, the Chamber does not support ending specials.

In a recent press release and letter to the editor, the Chamber claims the end of specials will have a "chilling" effect on the economy and homeowners, but nothing could be further from the truth. Ending specials will put more money in people's pockets, which means more money to spend in local stores. Additionally, I have already had people call me to ask when they can buy their first home, free from special assessments. Ending specials will promote home ownership.

If Fargo is the only city in the region without special assessments, where do you suppose new homeowners will purchase their property? The answer is self-evident. If Fargo ends specials, the region will be forced to follow suit or risk losing business to Fargo.

The status quo does not like the idea of ending special assessments. They are fearful that the residents of Fargo will finally realize how this system harms them. As such, they have taken a position, less than two weeks before the election, to try and quiet those of us who know ending special assessments is the right thing to do. I do not think it will have the effect they were seeking.

The Chamber has a track record of supporting policies which do not benefit taxpayers. It has, in the recent past, supported a massive convention center that will increase taxes and incentives that hurt the average taxpayer while lining the pockets of the well connected. And now the Chamber also supports special assessments.

The Chamber represents and advocates for its members, not the residents of Fargo. Its tone-deaf response to this ever-increasing encumbrance is not surprising and should be rejected by its membership and the people of Fargo.

The residents of Fargo are through with politicians cutting around the margins and calling it a remedy. They are also tired of being burdened with unnecessary taxes while handpicked businesses benefit.

Special assessments need to end.

Gehrig is a Fargo city commissioner running for re-election.