“We’re sending back more money than we’ve ever sent to political subdivisions and the taxes aren’t going down,” said House Majority Leader Al Carlson of the alleged property tax relief passed by the legislature in recent years. “If they don’t think the people are going to figure this out, they’re kidding themselves.”
Rep. Carlson said that during this Valley News Live television segment (jump in at about the 4:20 mark for the property tax discussion) which really hit the nail on the head when it comes to the problems with the legislature’s approach to the issue.
The problem with property tax relief as the legislature has approached it is that they’re really not cutting anyone’s taxes. They’re buying up local spending (which, by the way, costs taxpayers more at the state level) in exchange for the local governments lowering mill levies.
Except, mill levies are just one part of the property tax equation. There’s also valuations, which are growing so fast in the state they’ve largely obviated most of the property tax relief the state has bought.
During the clip, state Senator Tony Grindberg says that property tax payers will see an immediate decrease in their mills dedicated to spending. He’s probably right, but there’s no restraint on future mill increases (something Governor Jack Dalrymple made sure to mention when introducing this plan during his State of the State address):
“The relief is temporary, but the cost is forever,” said Rep. Rick Becker during the floor debate over the property tax bill yesterday. That’s exactly right. The state is now obligated to provide most of the funds for local education, and while that may reduce property taxes in the short run, in the long run all we’re going to be left with is more state spending and the same old problem with property taxes that just don’t seem to have a ceiling.
As I wrote yesterday, this property tax scheme is just a really expensive way to achieve a very small amount of property tax relief.