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Property owners in Burleigh County could be seeing a 13% property tax increase from the county next year.

The county commission approved the increase Monday night as part of the 2020 preliminary budget. A public hearing for the final budget is scheduled for Sept. 18.

Commissioners initially were considering increasing property taxes by 23.5%. They reduced the proposed increase to 13% after cutting costs.

The county legislators eliminated $262,000 in jail maintenance funds and withdrew $525,000 from both the Missouri Valley Complex, a multiuse recreational park, and The Provident office building, and placed it into the general fund.

County Commissioner Jerry Woodcox said the jail maintenance and construction funds, which are equivalent to 0.5 mills, weren’t necessary.

“We’ve got a whole new jail so I think we can get by without a half a mill there,” he said.

Commissioner Mark Armstrong said the proposed 13% property tax increase would offset a 13.4% property tax decrease from 2018.

“To explain to taxpayers, if you look over two years, you broke even,” Armstrong said.

County Finance Director Clyde Thompson said the county has to raise property taxes now because of property tax relief approved by the state Legislature in 2017 that resulted in property tax decreases in the county the past two years. 

Thompson said it is important to consider that the changes approved Monday account only for a portion of a county resident’s total property tax statement.

“Obviously, the school district is a major player, probably 50 percent. You’ve got the park district. There’s other entities that are included on that tax statement, not only Burleigh County,” Thompson said.

He added: “I don’t know what these other entities are proposing. It’s not going to be a 25 percent increase on top of the tax statements from last year. We are only talking about Burleigh County’s share. After last night’s meeting, we are down to a 13 percent increase.”

Editor's note: This news story was updated. An earlier version misidentified the commissioner who said, “To explain to taxpayers, if you look over two years, you broke even.” That statement was made by Mark Armstrong, not Jim Peluso. 

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Reach Andy Tsubasa Field at 701-250-8264 or andy.field@bismarcktribune.com.

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