Drive to Bring Initiated Measure to Voters
BISMARCK – It is still in the early stages but the effort to end North Dakota’s property tax appears to be gaining momentum. The End Unfair Property Tax movement hopes to obtain 45,000 signatures from North Dakotans to place an initiated measure before the voters to abolish proper tax.
Rick Becker, Bismarck, is a former legislator who is spearheading the movement. He says that 45,000 signatures are the goal but only 31,165 are necessary to get the measure on the ballot.
“If we turn petitions in on or before February 12 it will put the issue on the June 2024 ballot. If we turn them in any time after that it will be on the November ballot,” said Becker.
Becker said he could not be certain how many signatures have already been collected because the effort is purely grass roots with no money behind the petition drive.
“Nobody is being paid,” said Becker. “As such, it is entirely different than when it is a paid effort. We’re not under the gun by any means with plenty of time to get the signatures. Probably within a month I’ll have a better idea of where we’re at.”
The End Unfair Property Tax movement is gaining more interest as property taxes continue to rise. Proponents say the state has more than enough money to pay for what government is taxing citizens.
“Many people, including myself, believe that amongst the taxes, property tax is a fairly immoral tax. Private property is the foundation of a free society,” said Becker. “The ability for the government to take away something that you should rightfully own is improper. I’m shocked at how much property tax is going up this year. It’s just crazy to me.”
Becker cites wasteful spending by the State Legislature that could be put to better use by relieving citizens of property taxes. He says at the end of the last biennium the state had $2.5 billion left over but “haven’t done squat” in regard to property tax relief.
“Let’s call it wasteful unnecessary spending,” said Becker. “We have a chance to take that away from state legislators and convert it to actual tax relief for citizens by eliminating the property tax. Let’s do something amazing for the people of North Dakota.”
Oil field revenues have boosted the state’s revenue for the past several years. However, maintains Becker, legislators have been spending it all without providing any significant property tax relief to citizens.
One of the main objections to the End Unfair Property Tax movement is the perception that governing bodies throughout the state will lose “local control” of their budgets. Becker says that is not true.
“There isn’t a loss of local control and I know that’s what the opposition is going to be harping on again,” remarked Becker. “I know they are starting to organize and are going to be coming with a bunch of money and a whole lot of misleading, if not just overly untruthful statements, about local control. It’s a matter of educating people about how much money we’re spending that we don’t need too. The money exists. We just need to take away that wasteful spending.”
Becker claims cities and counties will maintain total control of how to spend their money, which will be provided by the state legislature.
“If cities and counties need added revenue, they can do anything other than property tax,” explained Becker. “They can do sales tax, bonding, assessment, infrastructure fees. Are we taking local control away? We are taking an option away.”