Port: Want to give property owners some relief? Give the firefighters back their full funding


MINOT, N.D. — Property tax relief is something that is often talked about and seldom accomplished.

But that’s a whole different column.

There is one way — simple to the point of being blindingly obvious — lawmakers could give property owners a modicum of meaningful relief, and that’s for them to give the firefighters their full funding back.

North Dakota’s fire districts get funding from many different sources, including a share of the state’s tax on insurance premiums. When you pay your homeowners insurance, the premium is taxed, and a portion goes into a fund managed by the Insurance Commissioner’s Office and, from there, onto the various fire districts.

At least, that’s how it worked from 1887 until 1985 when our lawmakers, amid the farm crisis , raided the fund to help make ends meet. “Since 1985, funding to the fire districts has fluctuated between 101% of the funds to as low as 48% of the funds available,” Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread said in testimony to state lawmakers during the 2021 session.

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