Census names Horace as ND’s most affluent city

HORACE -- Horace Mayor Shane Walock grew up just north of the city and remembers hunting squirrels and gophers with a BB gun along the banks of the Sheyenne River.

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FNS Photo by David Samson Traffic moves through Horace on Wednesday.

HORACE - Horace Mayor Shane Walock grew up just north of the city and remembers hunting squirrels and gophers with a BB gun along the banks of the Sheyenne River.
“Now it’s just solid, just houses the whole two miles,” he said.
The suburb southwest of Fargo has grown fast the past few years, attracting many affluent residents with spacious riverside lots, which Walock suggests is why a Census Bureau survey found Horace to be the state’s most affluent city.
Many larger cities in the oil-soaked west also were affluent but not quite as well-off as Horace, which the survey said had a median household income of $88,750. Williston, the second-most affluent city in the state, had a median income of $69,559.
Some Fargo-area suburbs with smaller populations may be even more affluent than Horace, but the data is less reliable because the Census’ random survey did not reach as many residents as in larger communities. Tiny Oxbow, south of Fargo, for example, had a median income of $159,375, the highest of all communities in the state. Reiles Acres, northwest of Fargo, had a median income of $110,000. Prairie Rose, an enclave in south Fargo, had a median income of $106,944.
The least-affluent city in North Dakota was Belcourt on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation near the Canadian border. The median income was $25,909.
The Census survey, part of a series called the American Community Survey, gathered data from 2008 to 2012.
According to the survey, most of Horace’s residents of working age have jobs in education, health care and other professional services. Living in a bedroom community with few employers, they commute about 22.8 minutes to work each day.
A good chunk of the households, 45.8 percent, earn $100,000 or more a year and no family lives below the poverty line.
Nearly every resident has health insurance.
Williston, in the heart of the oil boom, fares less well. Most of residents there work in education, health care and professions involving the extraction of natural resources, presumably oil, and commute about 13.1 minutes to work.
Despite the area’s fabled oil wealth, only 29.7 percent of Williston’s workers earn $100,000 or more and 6.8 percent of families live below the poverty line.
Residents with health insurance coverage total about 89.5 percent of the population.
All of these numbers should be taken with a grain of salt, though, because the margin of error can vary greatly. Horace’s median income, the Census said, could be higher or lower by $11,198. Williston’s could be off by $5,861. Oxbow’s could be off by $46,804.
Still, the signs of wealth and growth are hard to miss in Horace.
Between the 2000 Census and the 2010 Census, Horace saw 165.6 percent more residents.
“What’s nice about it is it has a small-town feel but it’s close to Fargo,” the mayor said. “We have a great volunteer fire department. The school – everybody loves the school. You know all the teachers. They’re all well-respected and liked.”
Many of the newcomers were also drawn by the large lots near the river where they can build large homes, he said.
Horace has a lower tax rate than nearby cities, he said, but the bigger, costlier homes mean the city’s finances are healthy.
On the other hand, he said, newcomers are often from urban areas and bring with them urban expectations. For years, the city made do with ditches for drainage, he said, but now it requires new developments to have actual storm sewers with curbs and gutters.
Those things cost a lot of money and are usually paid as special assessments by homeowners benefiting from them, he said, but the newcomers want it and can afford it.
Tougher to deal with is a new swimming pool some residents have asked about, he said. Those can cost $1 million, he said.

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