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Politics & Government

You'll notice changes in property tax, based on Legislative action

ND Association of Counties

The executive director of the North Dakota Association of Counties says you’ll see some differences in your property tax bills this fall.

Mark Johnson said the 12 percent buy down is gone. Johnson says with the slowdown in the oil industry, state lawmakers decided the state could no longer afford that.

"Legislators said that on the floor," Johnson said in an interview. "They said it's probably not sustainable."

Johnson said at the time the 12 percent buydown passed, legislators wanted to, as Johnson put it, "Share the abundance we had for a couple of years."

"Citizens should realize they got a gift," Johnson said. "But that gift isn't always going to be the same every year at Christmas."

But Johnson said the 2017 Legislature passed what he called “permanent” property tax relief, because the state will take over the funding of county social services. Johnson said that's something the counties have worked on for a long time.

"That's one program the counties have no control over, whatsoever," Johnson said. "It is controlled by federal and state mandates."

Johnson said that's the definition of an "unfunded mandate."

"Local government didn't feel as if the property tax was the right source of revenue," Johnson said.

The legislation calls for a two-year "pilot program." But Johnson said that will likely become permanent.

Johnson said the amount levied in each county is different for social services. Counties could levy up to 20 mills for social services, but Johnson says that mill levy is now gone.

For some, that reduction may not be quite as much as the 12-percent buydown plan.

"I think, clearly, everyone understands there are going to be some property tax increases," Johnson said. "I think citizens must recognize that they did get a break for a while, but it wasn't sustainable."

However, Johnson said between the state picking up more of the costs of K-12 education, coupled with the state takeover of county social service programs, people have received a good amount of property tax relief.

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