Group outlines opposition to Measure 2

2012-02-01T19:42:00Z 2012-03-05T16:24:04Z Group outlines opposition to Measure 2By NICK SMITH | Bismarck Tribune Bismarck Tribune

Members of Keep It Local North Dakota, a group opposed to the June 12 ballot measure that would abolish property taxes in North Dakota, labeled it as the wrong approach to handling people's tax burden. They spoke during a Wednesday morning news conference at the Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce.

North Dakota Chamber of Commerce President Andy Peterson called Measure 2 a reckless attempt at a solution to dealing with property taxes.

"This is an extremist measure and we think it should go away," Peterson said. "Can I say this any more directly? This is not the right thing for North Dakota."

Peterson said contrary to what proponents of Measure 2 claim, it would take control away from local government subdivisions and centralize it with the state Legislature. Peterson said local government leaders would need to come to the Legislature to get budget approval and permission for community projects.

Members of Keep It Local North Dakota believe Measure 2 would have a major impact on the Legislature.

"They're afraid it would go into a full-time session," Peterson said.

At least one member of the Legislature has already told him he would probably resign if Measure 2 were to pass and the Legislature were to become full-time, Peterson said.

Another major concern of the coalition was how the revenue would be replaced by abolishing property taxes.

Peterson said approximately $800 million is collected annually in property taxes. He added that the language of Measure 2 requires the Legislature to "fully and properly fund all legally imposed obligations of state government" by developing a formula that would use a variety of tax revenues. He said it amounts to a tax shift and could lead to an increase in sales taxes as well as personal and corporate income taxes.

"It will chase employers out of the state," Peterson said.

Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce President Kelvin Hullet said the coalition sees the issue of legally imposed obligations as being unclear and can see Measure 2 running into legal problems.

"We think it would likely take years, if not a couple of decades, to sort out," Hullet said.

North Dakota Education Association President Dakota Draper said property taxes account for approximately 30 percent of most North Dakota school districts' budgets. Draper said the NDEA is very concerned about schools possibly losing a major chuck of funding as well as not knowing where the funds would come from if property taxes were abolished.

"We see Measure 2 not as a measure that will help North Dakota," Draper said.

Peterson said he gave credit to Empower the Taxpayer, the group that studied and crafted Measure 2, for starting a conversation on how to address the people's tax burden.

"That being said, it's the wrong decision," Peterson said, in reference to the measure.

Wednesday morning's news conference was the first of six to be held this week across the state by Keep It Local North Dakota.

"Our sole focus right now is defeating this measure," Peterson said.

For more information on Keep It Local North Dakota, visit

Reach Nick Smith at 250-8255 or 223-8482 or at

Copyright 2016 Bismarck Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(11) Comments

  1. citizen24
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    citizen24 - February 02, 2012 12:36 pm
    Ask somebody who knows how much money is in "the coffers" in bismarck. Its not as much as some would have us believe. A lot of that money goes into the legacy fund that we voted on, I voted for too, as a rainy day fund that can't be touched. And if you think the state is going to pass on their pet projects and give us the money we need back in counties and cities to keep paying the dog catcher and police and street cleaning I just can't go along with that. The state has been bullying the cities and counties for years. they won't even let them raise a speeding or stop sign violation from the 1960's price of 20 dollars. Now they are going to put cities and counties first and put their plans on hold? I'm not buying it. They dole out the crumbs or raise taxes on everything else so I will just pay somewhere else but Menards and Target get a pass. The hundreds of thousands of dollars those big corporations are gonna save is gonna make them smile.
    And if one more person says "Well this measure forces them to fund cities and counties," I think I'm going to heave. Goodness thats not true. I've read the measure numerous times and I've read the constitution. The measure refers to "legally" and that don't mean nothing but a county sheriff's office, some administrative offices etc. Doesn't say anything about city services, park services, or HOW BIG ANY OF THESE departments have to be etc.
    I'm going against the grain on this one, but I wouldn't be surprised if this thing fails. The majority of people back home are pretty darn happy with how things are going or they wouldn't keep electing the same state reps, the same city and county representatives and the same school and park board members. But we shall see. Lots of rat killing to be done before June yet. I'm just getting ready to pay my property taxes for last year to beat the Feb 15th deadline, but I'm not making any plans to have that money available for next year. Nope, they will get me in ways I haven't even thought of yet and this time I won't be able to complain to my city rep or lives a few blocks from me. I'll have to hunt down a legislator who will just say that he got outvoted by the east and couldn't send any more money back to my town. Oh yhea, this was a real great thought out plan alright. Its so great, nobody else in the free world has tried it yet. But we are gonna be the guinea pigs.
  2. old curmudgeon
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    old curmudgeon - February 02, 2012 12:09 pm
    I have some reservatioms about this matter, but probably vote in favor. I can not believe that the "powers that be" did not see this coming. they have been bleeding us with excessive property taxes for years. constantl;y increasing building schools like a princes palace as monuments to officials in power. they brought this upon them selves by thier abusive increases. should have been a cap on property tax at an acceptable level. would have avoided this situation. now they have to solve it. sorry about that. you broke now you have to fix it. may be painful for a while but good in the long run like having surgery. hurts at the time but you are healthier after it heals.
  3. 2cents
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    2cents - February 02, 2012 12:06 pm
    I tend to agree with earlier comments. This measure will probably end up passing in June. There are a lot of property owners who are just feed up with taxes on their property. Their homes could be confiscated by the tax man. This group is opposed to this measure but they don't even mention meeting property owners in the middle. They want it all....
  4. Report Abuse
    - February 02, 2012 10:23 am
    It is refreshing to see the Chamber of Commerce is on the right side of this issue, given that some of their members are probably out-of-state commericial property owners who would be beneficiaries of getting rid of the property tax at the expense of North Dakota residents.

    These discussion pages show us how shortsighted some people can be, and it will take a concerted effort to educate the public on this issue. One positive aspect of the public airing of this issue is that there will be serious consideration to expanding the homestead credit and making other changes in the property tax laws so the residents of North Dakota, not out-of-state property owners, will benefit from our state's new wealth.
  5. tiredofspending
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    tiredofspending - February 02, 2012 8:53 am
    State legislators made it law the state will fund ALL schools in the state at 70% of their budget, this created an increase of 22 % in Mandan's current budget compared to last year, so the 70#% from the state with this 22% increase equals 92% of their needs. Since it appears all Mandan did with the additional 6 million dollars, was add administration costs and staffing, if they go back to 2010 levels and staffing, they should have the 100% necessary WITHOUT any property tax income. Bottom line, tax exempt Chamber of Commerce bullying taxpayers into paying taxes they are not, is so unbelievable it is laughable. Mandan school board wants new schools, park board wants a splash park, while the city is so broke the city commission actually had the residents vote on which intersection they wanted fixed because the city did not have enough to fix all the necessary repairs needed, so they would only fix the one with the highest votes. Where is the money going, specials are insane right along with the property tax? Is Mandan at the point where all they are able to pay for is existing salaries, benefits and pensions, that there is no money to fix any of our roads without specials added onto private residences?
  6. da boss
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    da boss - February 02, 2012 8:22 am
    It's about time for everyone to DEMAND that ALL of our City and County Commissioners, STOP donating your tax dollars to organizitions, such as the Chamber of Commerces, The League of Cities, and The Association of Counties. NO ONE who uses your tax dollars to take political stands and actions, should get tax money. They say they don't use tax money that way. They only use membership money, & other sources. That's balony. The money all goes in one pocket, and all expenses come out of that pocket. Commissioners can't spend tax money to promote their political agenda, but can funnel tax dollars to those organizations who will help them get their agendas accomplished.
  7. BeachBoy
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    BeachBoy - February 02, 2012 8:20 am
    I am going to vote no on this measure, but I am afraid it will pass, knowing as I do North Dakota people's avaricious nature. I own two homes and pay around $5000 a year on property tax. Yes, on the surface, this law looks like it would put more money in my pocket; but as has been said, that money has to come from somewhere. We will be forced to raise the sales tax, corporate tax and income tax, to name a few, to make up the difference. Plus, our legislature will be forced to meet all year long, every year, to make every miniscule decision that has long been made by thousands of locally elected officials. Local control of tax dollars will be out the window. It is a lose-lose measure. VOTE NO!
  8. smokingcrater
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    smokingcrater - February 02, 2012 7:57 am
    ing1947 said: "We don't have any politicians or I should say enough politicians who we have elected that will give home owners any breaks on property tax's, they got millions if not billions in the states coffers and will have for the next 30 to 40 years, yet can't seem to give working people a tax break. Only want to spend more on schools in the east and towns in the east. So yes I'm voting to get rid of property tax's. "

    You do realize that getting rid of property tax will probably do the opposite of what you want, right? Without property taxes, school decisions will happen at the state level. The east really won't be affected, but expect numerous small school closings in the west. There are quite a few western schools that are operating entirely because of the local support. Once the state owns the wallet, it will soon be very obvious which schools are costing to much per student to keep operating.

    The one thing that the backers of this measure never answer, where is that money supposed to come from? Money doesn't grown on trees... Yes, the state has lots of income, but not nearly enough at this point to support running without property tax for more than a couple years max.

  9. RockNDBakken
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    RockNDBakken - February 01, 2012 10:15 pm
    County governments are SCARED that this might pass. They LOVE to raise the VALUATION of homes and then reduce the mill levy by a couple of points and then proclaim "property taxes are going down". It is a terrible SCAM. The teachers union would LOVE to raise our taxes to put more money into their contracts. The legislature COULD limit the percentage of total increase that local governments could levy as CALIFORNIA did. Yes, Cal. is in a deep hole because of their lavish pension plans, not from property taxes. OR..keep the property tax and LOWER the income tax to benefit ALL North Dakotans.
  10. Opinionated783
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    Opinionated783 - February 01, 2012 9:35 pm
    June 12th will be a remarkable for the hard working people of North Dakota. I find it interesting that the oposition is opposed because they do not want to have anyone telling them how to spend the money that does not belong to them. Irony at it's best. Be wise people, I am all for having a rainy day fund but I am sure that I can spend my money as effectively to stimulate this economy as anyone can and I am voting to do just that! The money I spend will be taxed and they will end up with some of it anyway, it will just not be the slushfund they desire!
  11. ing1947
    Report Abuse
    ing1947 - February 01, 2012 8:48 pm
    We don't have any politicians or I should say enough politicians who we have elected that will give home owners any breaks on property tax's, they got millions if not billions in the states coffers and will have for the next 30 to 40 years, yet can't seem to give working people a tax break. Only want to spend more on schools in the east and towns in the east. So yes I'm voting to get rid of property tax's.
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