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GF cemetery reps testify before state Legislature

The Grand Forks Cemetery Association's appeal from dike assessments led to heated discussions in the City Council this year, and now representatives are taking their fight to state lawmakers.

Gordon Iseminger, association president, was in Bismarck this morning to ask the Senate Finance and Taxation Committee to block special assessments against nonprofit cemeteries. He believes the assessments are already banned by a 1970 state Supreme Court decision.

But Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said in a March 18 opinion that "the law in this area is unsettled," and some City Council members have suggested the fees that pay for the city's flood protection system should be charged to everyone as a matter of fairness.

The city of Grand Forks says the association already owes $240,000 from previous assessments and was scheduled for another $118,000 next year.

The association paid $45,000 toward the assessments in 2004, but hasn't paid any additional money since.

Sen. Ray Holmberg, R-Grand Forks, said the full Senate will soon vote on the delayed bill he introduced last week that would clearly exempt "property owned by a nonprofit entity and used exclusively as a cemetery."

Reach Johnson at (701) 780-1105; (800) 477-6572, ext. 105; or send e-mail to