Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Land Values Going Up

Two weeks after it was announced that Agricultural Land values were going up an average of 30%, there is FINALLY a newspaper covering the issue. Show of hands: who thinks that counties are going to reduce mills to compensate for the increased valuation? No, I don't think so either.

Show of hands: how many farmers have enjoyed a 30% increase in income in the last year? No, I didn't think so. In fact, this last year saw some of the highest number of acres of cropland that were not planted because of rain and flooding.

This is just one more example of how unsustainable Property Tax is. It continues to rise and the increases far outstrip citizen's income. Can there be any other solution other than to eliminate this onerous tax?


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Play the Game and Win a Prize!

Let's play our old favorite: How many mistakes can you spot?

Below is the Q&A that the Anti-Measure 2 people are putting out. How many mistakes (errors, incorrect or non-factual statements) can you find in their statement? A free bumper sticker to the person who comes up with the most correct answers. Contest closes Midnight, February 8, 2012.

What is Measure No. 2?
It’s a proposal to amend the North Dakota Constitution to prohibit political subdivisions (cities, counties, school districts, townships, park districts, water districts, irrigation districts, fire protection districts, soil conservation districts, etc.) from levying a tax on the assessed value of property. The proposal will be on the primary election ballot on June 12.

If local services are now funded by property tax, how would those services be funded in the future?
The measure provides that “taxes upon real property which were used before 2012 to fund operations” of political subdivisions must be replaced by state resources.

The measure says taxes on real property used before 2012 to fund operations must be replaced by state resources; does that mean the state-replaced revenue would be frozen at 2011 levels?
The measure requires funding to be determined “according to a formula devised by the legislative assembly.”

Would all local operations be required to be funded?
The measure’s language requires funding of “legally imposed obligations” of political subdivisions.

How are “legally imposed obligations” defined?
The proposed measure does not define this term, nor does state law define this term for political subdivisions.

Would police and fire protection be considered “legally imposed obligations”?________________________________________________________
There is no legal requirement in state law to provide police and fire protections.

Would local control of local budgets be affected?
Funding for political subdivisions would be determined “according to a formula devised by the legislative assembly.”

Would the measure affect special assessments?
Special assessments are based on the benefit to property, not based on the value of property. However, the method of collecting (currently through property tax statements issued by the county) and the method of enforcing (currently through a sale conducted by the county for delinquent taxes) could be affected.

Would the measure affect the limit of public debt?
Currently in state law, the debt limit is five percent of “assessed value of the taxable property.” The measure would change the debt limit to five percent of “the market value of the property.” The public debt limit would increase significantly and market value would have to be determined on all property, including churches, personal property and other property not currently taxed.

When would the proposed measure become effective?
The effective date is January 1, 2012.

If the effective date is January 1, 2012, how would political subdivisions fund local services before the 2013 Legislative Assembly meets?
Either the legislature will have to meet in special session, or the method of funding would be unknown after June 12. The measure specifies funding “according to a formula devised by the legislative assembly.”

The Anti-Measure 2 Folks Have Emerged

The opposition to Measure 2 has appeared. Of course, it is the same folks we expected with a new set of clothes – they call themselves, “Keep it LOCAL North Dakota”. According to their press release they are

“A non-partisan coalition of concerned citizens, associations and businesses dedicated to preserving the right of local control over local services. The coalition is dedicated to defeating Measure 2, which would amend the state’s constitution by eliminating property taxes. Measure 2 is on the June primary elections ballot.”

Non-partisan? Maybe. But mostly government and government-interest groups. It is composed of the State Chamber of Commerce, Association of Counties and the League of Cities, all groups that function with YOUR tax money. SAB publishes the truth about these groups.

What exactly does “Keep it LOCAL” mean?
Let’s be frank. Measure 2 it has to do with only two things:

1. Being able to OWN your home – never again having to pay government rent as a condition of living in it.
2. Having control over the taxes you pay, not how they are collected but how they are spent.

“Keep it LOCAL” means one thing to Opponents of Measure 2 and quite another to Supporters of Measure 2!
*To the opponents it means you collect the tax and someone else tells you how to spend it.
*To the proponents it means you decide how your tax dollars are spent.

Proponents of Measure 2 ask: Would you rather have control over how and where your taxes are collected or how they’re spent?
>>Right now neither you nor your local governing bodies have control over how the property taxes you pay are collected or spent. Understanding this is as easy as 1, 2, 3…

1. The State of ND has a 27 page detailed schedule of what maximum mill rates and amounts may and may not be assessed – you have NO control. Read the Document for yourself.
2. If property taxes are locally controlled, why do we need a State Property Tax Department?
3. If property taxes are locally controlled why has the State Legislature changed property tax law at least 135 over the past 20 years?

>>Measure 2 abolishes property taxes AND requires the State to return the sales and income taxes you pay to your political subdivision. Your taxes come back to your local community to be spent as your local officials choose to spend them. That's the kind of local control that supporters of Measure 2 want to see.

Opponents of Measure 2 tell you: “Preserving the right of local control over local services” requires “defeating Measure 2”.

>> There is no local control over property taxes. The only thing “local” about property taxes right now is the property being taxed. What control do you have when the state tells you:

· What you can assess mills for,
· The maximum number of mills you can assess,
· The minimum number of mills you can assess,
· If you don’t assess as directed – the state will not revenue share with you.

>> What is revenue sharing? Believe it or not revenue sharing is when the state gives you back some of the sales tax, income tax, gas tax, license and registrations fees, you’ve already paid. It’s your money; however, right now the state treats it as if it belongs to the state. You only get some of it back IF you do what the state dictates.

>> Measure 2 dramatically changes this upside down relationship. This is why governmental entities fear Measure 2. First, it puts us in charge of our own money not the collection agent. Second, it makes it clear who is responsible for how our taxes are spent. This frightens local political bodies.

Measure 2 constitutionally directs local control over how our tax dollars are spent. How they are collected is irrelevant – how they are spent is everything.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Most Well-Thought Out Measure

Opponents of Measure 2 are prone to say this is a poorly-thought out measure. We beg to disagree. Measure 2 is probably the most well-thought out, debated and researched measure in the state's history. And now we have a book to prove it. This last week we held a press conference to announce the publishing of our book Property Tax Revolution: It's our Home, not Theirs. To my knowledge no other measure has had a book published on the issue.

Measure 2 not only has a book, but an econometric study as well (see BHI report on the sidebar.) We chose BHI because this economic think-tank has already been used by North Dakota's Commerce Department to guide their economic development policies. BHI is familiar with the economic climate in North Dakota and legislators and policy makers trust BHI's expertise.

It's clear that not only is this a well-thought, well-researched measure, but that we want voters and policy makers to be fully informed on the issue. We want voters to be informed by the facts, not the fear of the naysayers and feel confident that a YES vote will move the state forward in a positive way.

Read the article: http://bismarcktribune.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/measure-backers-write-book/article_9e7b62b2-4652-11e1-abab-0019bb2963f4.html#ixzz1kn6wNEwX

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

NJ Governor: Property Tax is the Problem

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie says that it's property tax more than any other tax that is driving business away from his state. I think North Dakota should show New Jersey the solution, don't you?


Edited to add: Look at the comments. It looks like many in NJ are already looking at what we're doing with Measure 2 and would like to beat us to the punch to be the first state to end property tax.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Elimination: The Property Tax Solution