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Moorhead family featured on TV show may see 'Extreme' tax bill

The Grommesh family's house, which was built for ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," is at 1928 8th St. in north Moorhead. (Chris Franz/The Forum)

MOORHEAD - The Moorhead family that was given a new, much larger home last year as part of the TV show "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" will eventually get something else - a property tax bill more than triple what the family paid before the project.

But an official with the local building company that constructed the home for Bill and Adair Grommesh said the ABC show behind such projects goes to great lengths to ensure families do not suffer financially because of them.

"One of the things that they ("Extreme Makeover") absolutely do is make sure that before anybody gets this type of blessing, that the homeowner is going to be in the same financial situation, or better," said Tyrone Leslie, president and co-owner of Heritage Homes.

The new house on Eighth Street South is 5,200 square feet, with three bedrooms, five bathrooms and a two-car garage.

It also has an elevator and an indoor pool with a lift for their son, Garrett, who was born with spina bifida and uses a wheelchair to get around.

The family's original home - about 1,146 square feet - was moved to north Moorhead and given to the family of Izja and Valdete Hajdari, refugees from Kosovo.

Home value triples

For tax purposes, the city of Moorhead has valued the new Grommesh home at about $388,000, with approximately $33,000 of that ascribed to the lot.

For this year, the Grommeshes' tax bill - about $1,500, plus special assessments - is still based on the $130,000 value of their old house, which includes the lot value.

The family will begin paying taxes on the new home value starting in 2012, but they will get a two-year tax abatement on the first $200,000 worth of improvements, an abatement given to all newly built homes in the city.

The taxes next year and in 2013 will be about $2,400 each year, according to the Moorhead city assessor's office

By 2014, the home's entire value will be taxed, resulting in an annual property tax bill of about $5,400.

Pitching in

When the "Extreme Makeover" project was under way last fall, there was a community fundraiser to help defray costs the Grommeshes might face because of the project.

More than $50,000 was collected, said Lance Akers, who helped with the effort.

Akers said he didn't know details of what the project may have cost the Grommeshes.

"Basically, the fundraising was done to help offset the various expenses," he said.

"In this case, it's more you have the old mortgage that still had to be paid and then you have the taxes for the new home.

"The hope was that if enough was raised, we could have helped the Hajdaris, too, but that wasn't in the cards," Akers said.

Phone messages left for the Grommeshes were not returned.

Leslie said the family is very private and after their time in the spotlight they are eager to get back to their lives and their job of running the nonprofit organization Hope Inc., which provides support for wheelchair-bound children in the Fargo-Moorhead area.

Publicity from the show has increased the number of children Hope Inc. is helping, said Leslie, who added that people from other states have approached the family about how similar efforts can be set up in their communities.

"The family is now helping more kids today than they were before they got the home. That is beautiful," Leslie said.

While he said he is not privy to the Grommeshes' personal finances, he said there was no new mortgage associated with the new house and the family is grateful for all it has received and will receive in the future.

When the makeover project was unveiled, Concordia College announced that the two Grommesh children, Garrett and his sister, Peighton, would receive full-tuition scholarships.

Also, each of the four Hajdari children are to receive scholarships of $10,000 a year for four years.

In total, the education packages were reported to be worth about $385,000.