Gov. Jack Dalrymple today announced the creation of a task force that will guide statewide property tax reform. The 14-member Task Force on Property Tax Reform, largely represented by property taxpayers and authorities from local tax jurisdictions, will evaluate the system of assessing and collecting taxes by locally elected officials and will forward to the Governor and Legislature its recommendations for reform.
"Now that we have provided historic tax relief, it's time to take the next step and achieve lasting property tax reform," Dalrymple said. "We can improve the property tax system and provide greater transparency in the budgeting process of our local political subdivisions.
Since 2009, the state has provided an unprecedented $2.4 billion in tax relief. The state is providing more than half of the tax relief -- about $1.5 billion -- through reductions in local property taxes.
Although the state has continued to provide for local property tax reductions, rising property valuations have outpaced the state support within many political subdivisions, leading to net increases in local tax collections.
"I have formed this task force because the citizens of North Dakota have asked their elected state officials to address the issue of property tax increases and to shed light on the many tax authorizations that are granted to local taxing authorities," Dalrymple said. "The members of this task force represent the many stakeholders who have a vested interest in our property tax system including home owners, commercial property owners, taxpayers engaged in agricultural production, officials who represent local tax authorities and Legislators.
"We can simplify our property tax system and provide more transparency in the budgeting process of local governments," Dalrymple said. "Through the work of this task force, we may also identify opportunities to improve the property tax system in ways that result in meaningful savings for taxpayers."
Dalrymple is creating the Task Force on Property Tax Reform by executive order, directing its members to research and analyze all mill levies authorized by all political subdivisions other than school districts. The task force also will research and analyze the processes used by political subdivisions to assess and collect property taxes for funding of local government services. With the analysis in hand, the task force will identify opportunities to:
Simplify, consolidate or eliminate unnecessary and duplicative taxes.
Replace taxing authorities with user-based fee authorities.
Replace tax levies with other possible revenue sources, such as state funding.
Improve the timelines and processes used by local political subdivisions to assess and finalize property valuations and develop operating budgets.
Significant property tax reform has already been achieved within the state's school districts. The 63rd Legislative Assembly provided more than $850 million in property tax relief for the 2013-2015 biennium, including about $656 million provided through a new K-12 school funding formula that shifted the largest share of education costs from school districts to the state. The fully integrated funding formula insures that there is sufficient funding for every student in the state; it drastically reduces the local cost of education, with the state covering an average of 80 percent of school funding; it consolidates local mill levies to provide greater transparency for local property taxpayers. Meanwhile, school district officials maintain authority to ask their electors for additional tax revenue.
Dalrymple will serve as chairman of the task force. Other task force members and their representation are:
Blaine DesLauriers of Minot, homeowner
Hal Gershman of Grand Forks, commercial property owner
Michael Montplaisir, Cass County Auditor
Loren DeWitz of Bismarck, property tax payer representing agricultural producers
Bill Wocken, Bismarck City Manager
Ryan Rauschenberger, North Dakota Deputy Tax Commissioner
Linda Svihovec, McKenzie County Auditor
Sen. Dwight Cook of Mandan, Chairman of the Senate Finance and Taxation Committee
Rep. Wes Belter, Chairman of the House Finance and Taxation Committee
Non-voting members of the task force are:
James Kramer, Director of Dickinson Parks and Recreation, representative for the North Dakota Recreation and Parks Association
Mark Johnson, North Dakota Association of Counties
Jon Godfread, The Greater North Dakota Chamber
Blake Crosby, North Dakota League of Cities
The task force will hold its first meeting Friday, Dec. 6. Dalrymple said he wants the task force to complete its work in time to forward its research and recommendations to the 64th Legislative Assembly which will convene Jan. 6, 2015.