North Dakota Taxpayer’s Association Comments

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The Property Tax Attitude Problem
May 3rd, 2009

Senate Bill 2199 has passed, has been signed by the Governor, and is now law.

State taxpayers will now send $295 million to local school districts for the purpose of reducing property taxes – in one pocket, and out the other.

The next step to resolving the property tax situation is something that cannot be legislated – the attitude of local government officials.

In today’s Bismarck Tribune (click here) we learn that the City of Bottineau had neglected to appraise commercial property values for 17 years.

Mayor Douglas Marsden said commercial property in Bottineau had not been appraised since 1992, because the city lacked an appraiser.

“After nearly 20 years, the City Council felt it was time,” Marsden said.

“About 200 properties were reviewed and the city’s commercial valuation grew from $24.8 million to $33.4 million, city auditor Penny Nostdahl said.”

Next comes the swipe –

Marcy Dickerson, the North Dakota Tax Department’s supervisor of assessments, said several North Dakota communities have not had an assessment in more than a decade. “I don’t doubt one bit that Bottineau needed one,” she said. “Taxes don’t have to go up because of a valuation, but in the real world they usually do. They are based on the value of the property and not based on the income of the property owner.”

Did you get that?

“Taxes don’t have to go up because of a valuation, but in the real world they usually do.

This is the problem with property taxes, they don’t go up because the school board, city council, park board, or county commission votes for a tax increase – they just go up on their own – whether the local government needs the money or not.

Until local government officials realize they control property tax increases by their own inaction, no amount of state money will fix the problem.

The only solution to property taxes is to require local government to vote on budgets and revenues seperately.

When values go up, local government can leave the mill levy right where it is, and get more revenue without “raising taxes.”

The formula raises the taxes automaticly, it is the job of the local government to reduce the mill levy by the same percentage that property values increase.

-Dustin Gawrylow,
Executive Director

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