Proposed initiated measure would end local property taxes

Proposed initiated measure would end local property taxes

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Supporters of eliminating property taxes are preparing an initiated ballot measure.

The proposed constitutional measure will be presented to the secretary of state’s office next week, Rep. Rick Becker, R-Bismarck, told Prairie Public radio. 

Once it's approved for circulation, supporters will need to gather 26,904 valid signatures by July 6 to get it on the November general election ballot. 

Voters in 2012 overwhelmingly rejected a similar measure, with 77% of voters disapproving. Opponents feared a loss of local control and worried that oil boom revenue was temporary.

Becker said he thinks things have changed since then, with state taxes now picking up more of the cost of K-12 education, human service programs and local costs for roads.

Under the new proposal, state revenues would replace all local property taxes, but local governments would still have control over how the money was spent, according to Becker.

"Last time, there was a narrative that the state was going to be in charge of the spending, and cities were going to have to come to Bismarck, stand in line with their hands out, asking for money," Becker said. "That's completely untrue."

Promised property tax relief hasn't materialized, Becker said.

"The one thing that hasn't changed, is that it's the voters' No. 1 complaint," he said. "People are sick of property tax, they're sick of not getting relief, especially in light of the revenue the state is taking in. They demand to have something a little bit more than these 'tinkering on the margins' we've been doing."

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