Video: Legislators Kill Property Tax Transparency Bill

There is nothing that keeps North Dakotans pissed off, from one legislative session to the next, like property taxes. And a lot of the problem is that the process of how the tax is formulated and levied is hugely complicated.

HB1058, introduced by Legislative Management, would require any taxing authority considering a tax hike to notify property owners of the proposal, what it would mean for their tax bill in dollars, and when there will be a public hearing on the proposal so that property owners can attend and participate.

You may wonder why that’s not already being done. And then you’d realize that the fact the Legislature has to make this a law is why people are so perpetually upset about property taxes.

Unfortunately, the House killed the bill today after it received a 10-3 “do not pass” recommendation from the Finance and Taxation Committee. The final vote was 42-49.

The argument against the bill was that the various taxing entities set their budgets at different times, so there wasn’t a good way to create a unified notification system. But that sounds like an excuse.

Are we running things based on what’s convenient for local governments, or what’s convenient for the taxpayers?

Given what a hot-button issue taxes are, year after year, you’d think a little more effort could have been put in to making this work. Then again, we all know that the biggest enemies of government transparency in North Dakota are local governments.

What was particularly galling was listening to bill carrier Rep. Jessica Haak talk about how committed lawmakers are to transparency. If that’s the truth, then make this bill work, don’t gave to local government interests who don’t want taxpayers engaged.

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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