County social service funding bill on its way to Gov. Burgum

Apr 25, 2017

Rep. Craig Headland (R-Montpelier).
Credit ND Legislature

Rep. Kathy Hogan (D-Fargo).

A bill for a state take-over of county social service funding is now on its way to Governor Burgum.

Under it, the state will assume all the costs of social service programs now funded at the county level. It eliminates the 20 mill levy for social services.

"What it (the 12 percent) was put in place for is as a holder, until the state could figure out a way to take over county social services," said Sen. Dwight Cook (R-Mandan), chairman if the Senate Finance and Taxation Committee.

The bill eliminates the 20 mill levy authority counties use to fund social service programs.

Cook said the cost of taking over funding county social services is $160 million, compared to the estimated $270 million for the 12 percent buy down.

"The statewide average is about 7.8%," Cook said. "Some will be above that, some will be below."

Rep. Craig Headland (R-Montpelier) chairs the House Finance and Taxation Committee. He told the House with this bill, plus state aid to K-12 education, there is still a significant amount of property tax relief being provided by the Legislature.

"In this biennium, the state will provide $1.362 billion to property tax relief," Headland said. "That is a significant number -- equal to about 39 percent of the total property taxes paid in this state."

Headland said he counts K-12 funding as part of that $1.3 billion.

Rep. Kathy Hogan (D-Fargo) said she would support the bill – but it isn’t perfect.

"People have made good faith efforts in this bill," Hogan said. "It's limited property tax relief -- not what we're getting, but better than nothing."