Committee looking at state funding for social service programs

Jan 26, 2017

A Senate committee is looking at a proposal to have the state take over the costs of delivering human service programs at the county level.

Right now, counties levy a property tax for that.

Supporters say this would be real property tax relief – and reform.

"Our property taxpayers shouldn't be responsible for that funding," said Randi Suckut, Wells County Commissioner and president of the North Dakota Association of Counties. "Especially when social services can't be changed at the county level, because it's so federally and state mandated. The counties really have no say over the operation of social services."

The measure would pay for that through money the Legislature set aside to reduce property taxes at the county level by 12 percent.

Sen. Dwight Cook (R-Mandan) chairs the Senate Finance and Taxation Committee. He supports the bill.

"This is actual property tax relief," Cook said. "It's going to be delivered in a different way. There will be a 20-mill reduction in the county social services budget."

The county employees who handle social services would remain as county employees.