Property Assessments Set To "Skyrocket" In North Dakota's Fourth Largest County

Republicans are busy touting the hundreds of millions of dollars worth of “property tax relief” they passed in the recent legislative session, but if property owners thought that was going to mean some relief on their property tax statements think again. In Ward County, the state’s fourth largest county, property taxes are set to “skyrocket” according to local CBS affiliate KXMC:

KXNet – Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson

“Commissioner John Fjeldahl voted against every increase saying he would like to see the county stand up to the state to try and change the process,” reports KXMC. Commissioner Fejeldahl is referring to the state’s requirement that counties keep property assessments within 90% of the “full and true value.” Thanks to the oil boom, property values in Minot are increasing rapidly, but in the rural areas of the county the real value of the property isn’t growing nearly so quickly.

But the state doesn’t allow for any flexibility when it comes to setting those values. So much for the “local control” we were protecting when the voters struck down the ballot measure to eliminate property taxes – Measure 2 – last year.

Which illustrates one of the fundamental problems with the property tax. It’s not based on ability to pay, and it’s so prone to fluctuations that we find ourselves wishing for valuation formulas that reflect the taxes we want to pay, and not the actual value of our property.

Taxing property is, fundamentally, a poor way for government to raise revenue. And it seems that notion is spreading.

“So I look in two years, if this comes up on the vote again…everybody will abolish real estate tax,” said Berthold resident Wesley Hagen in the video. “I mean, I am sure everybody will vote for it because when you have no local control, what can you do you know?”

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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