It’s that time of year, when the words “property taxes” are a big topic of conversation. Each county, city, school and park board is currently setting budgets based on needs and public support for services.

There are changes this upcoming budget cycle that will impact your property taxes based on legislative actions this past session. The biggest change for taxpayers is the loss of the 12 percent state-paid property tax credit. Lawmakers recognized last session that this tax credit was not sustainable for the future, so they repealed it in favor of a smaller but more permanent form of property tax reform.

Going forward, the state will fund county social services. Because these services and their costs are controlled by federal and state mandates counties have no control. For that reason, counties do not feel property taxes are the appropriate source of revenue.

Over the next two years, counties will not levy for social services and instead those services will be funded with state dollars. The amount of property tax relief will differ county-by-county based on what the county levied in the past.

It’s important to recognize the level of property tax relief provided by the Legislature over the last several years. Lawmakers’ actions to fund social services is in addition to the commitment they have made by funding a greater share of the local cost of education. Together they total $1.3 billion in property tax relief in the next biennium.

Property taxes fund pretty much every service you depend on at the local level. It is law enforcement protection, jails, local roads, snow removal, elections, fire protection, public schools, public health, local parks and recreation, county fairs and so much more. I hope this information helps you understand your property taxes and the changes that may affect them.

Mark Johnson, Bismarck

Mark Johnson is executive director of the North Dakota Association of Counties.