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Group wants to defeat measure that would end property taxes in North Dakota

By Kim Jarrett | The Center Square

(The Center Square) – Two North Dakota groups are warring over whether or not property taxes should be eliminated in North Dakota.

The group End Unfair Property Tax has until June 29 to gather enough signatures for a ballot question on whether all political subdivisions should be prohibited from levying property taxes.

A newly formed group, Keep it Local, said the measure does not say how the state will replace $1.3 billion in lost revenue. The group includes a broad coalition of 65 groups from chambers of commerce and organizations representing education, energy, agriculture and health care.

“We are announcing our opposition because we believe the proponents will have the signatures before their deadline on the 29th,” said Chad Oban, who chairs Keep it Local, in a news conference broadcast on the group’s Facebook page. “If this does get on the ballot, we’re confident that we will defeat it because North Dakotans know that if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. North Dakotans believe local governments and local taxpayers are the best to make decisions, not legislators in Bismarck.”

End Unfair Property Tax said the state has a “tremendous” amount of sustainable revenue, but that elected officials spend it like “drunken sailors.”

If approved by voters, the state would simply give political subdivisions the same amount of money levied in 2024.

“Locals retain full ability to increase their budgets, whether for one time project spending or general increases, by all of the means present to them currently,” End Unfair Property Taxes said on its website. “The legislature must ensure that local subdivisions are not restricted in raising revenues to meet their needs by way of taxes or fees, and additional legislation will be introduced in 2025 to make this even less restrictive.”

North Dakotans rejected a similar measure in 2012.

“In 2012, this was a new concept to most people,” End Unfair Property Tax said on its website. “The measure was a grassroots effort with very little funding. The opposition had a well-funded campaign of fear, convincing people they would lose services, and all local control would be gone.”

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