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Monday, February 20, 2012


In June, North Dakota's voters will be ask to do something that would never enter the realm of possibility in any other state - eliminating local property taxes.


The North Dakota Taxpayers' Association has taken a neutral position the measure.


While we fully understand the motivations of those promoting the idea, and agree on the need for drastic change we have three primary reservations that prevent us from fully supporting the measure:


1. Loss of local control. If local property taxes are abolished, and those dollars replaced by the state legislature, there is a question of how much control will remain in the hands of local elected officials. There is also a very real concern that local elected officials will be push into roles as full-time lobbyists in Bismarck demanding increases to their local budgets. While there are already many mandate placed on local government by the state, it is impossible to deny that some sort of shift in power will take place - that's just the nature of government.


2. Trusting the legislature. While property taxes could be replaced without raising a dime of taxes, the legislature's history of spending does not point towards their ability to implement the measure without tax increases.


Over the last decade from 2001 to 2011, state spending has increased by 162% (including "one-time spending, 135% with "one-time spending" excluded). During that time, local spending has increased by 65%. While local spending is high, the legislature's spending habits are over twice as bad. Putting the bulk of funding responsibility for local government into the hands of the state will increase the legislature's spending portfolio by 40%.


***We must be very clear, the elimination of property taxes would require the state to make up $1.4 billion to maintain current local government revenues. The legislature could do this by cutting current spending, and the remainder of the state budget would still be $800 million above 2005-07 levels.


Other taxes DO NOT "have to go up" if Measure #2 passes, but they will if the legislature decides that is the "easy way out" for them politically. Given the demands by special interests lately, the legislature would be hard pressed to fully implement this measure within the confines of current revenues.


Conversely, we are not opposing the measure because NDTA has been on the frontlines of the property tax reform battle in the legislature. We understand the dynamics and history of what has been occurring in the legislature.


The system needs to be fixed, and this is a discussion that needs to be had.


Several of the organizations opposing this measure have long opposed any and all efforts to materially reform the property tax system in North Dakota.


To facilitate this discussion, NDTA will be holding several townhall forums over the next few months.


Currently the schedule looks like this:



Williston @ the El Rancho Hotel

(Thursday, February 23rd @ 5:30pm)


Dickinson @ the Elks Lodge

(Friday, March 9th @ 5:30pm)


Minot @ the Riverside Holiday Inn

(Thursday, March 29th @ 5:30pm)


Bismarck @ the Bismarck Public Library

(Thursday, April 19th @ 7:00pm)


Grand Forks @ the Best Western Guest House

(Thursday, April 26th @ 5:30pm)


Fargo @ the Ramada Plaza Suites

(Thursday, May 10th @ 5:30pm)



***If you would like to set up a forum in your community, please contact us.

Click here to email your elected representatives.


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