Wednesday, January 21, 2015

ND Counties Support Property Tax Reform Plan

Cass County Auditor Mike Montplaisir
Senate Bill 2144 is the product of the most comprehensive review of North Dakota's Property Tax system. The property tax reform bill had it's first hearing before the Senate Finance & Tax Committee Wednesday, Jan 21st. Governor Jack Dalrymple went section by section through the 133 page bill. Dalrymple described the hours of work put in by the Property Tax Reform Task Force which was made up of legislators, county auditors, city folks, parks and members of the public. The task force over the course of a year researched and analyzed 200 mill levies used to collect property taxes to fund local government. During that time the committee looked at which levies are no longer necessary, which ones could be consolidated and decided on appropriate caps to improve discipline. In the end, SB 2144 repeals 40 levies and consolidates 50 levies. 

NDACo sees this bill as greatly simplifying the budgeting process, reducing the need for numerous fund balances at all levels of local government, improving citizen understandability and increasing accountability and responsibility at the local elected board level where it belongs. 
McKenzie County Auditor Linda Svihovec

"When the Governor contacted me about serving on the committee, I enthusiastically
agreed because after 25 years of property tax administration, I felt there was a lot of room for improvement in the way of housekeeping and consistency in North Dakota property tax levies, which would ultimately make the calculation and administration of property taxes easier, and provide more clarity and transparency in the property tax system for North Dakota citizens and the legislature," McKenzie County Auditor Linda Svihovec told Committee members. 

Svihovec added, "The task force spent a lot of time discussing what the appropriate number of maximum mills should be for all levies that were consolidated in order for them to be right sized.  It was important to us that the new maximums created some flexibility for counties and cities that currently does not exist, and also that it did not reduce the current number of mills currently levied by the majority of counties and cities.  Thanks to an incredible amount of research and statistics provided by the Tax Department, we were able to determine that there were a few outliers that would be allowed a five year phase-in to bring their levies down to the maximum, and that in most cases, a reassessment of their property values would take care of the mill levy overages." 

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