Despite $752 Million In Property Tax Relief Since 2007, North Dakota Property Taxes Keep Going Up


Since 2007, when at the behest of then-Governor John Hoeven the state legislature began its practice of buying down local property taxes with state tax revenues, local government entities have gobbled up $752 million in state funds and are demanding more. And current Governor Jack Dalrymple is planning to oblige them, putting into his executive budget a $714 million property tax buy-down which includes the state taking over local property tax mills dedicated to education.

This is a state take over of local education funding. Guess we’re really “keeping it local” now, aren’t we?

But how has all this state spending on supposed “property tax relief” (which is in reality a shift in local spending from local revenues to state revenues) impacted actual property taxes? Well, it hasn’t really impacted them at all. Just like the end of every other year since this nonsense began, North Dakota property owners are being notified that their property taxes are going up yet again.

Here in Minot, property owners will be hit with a 5% levy hike and an average 10% increase in property valuations (my property assessment increased nearly $30,000) according to the Minot Daily News. In Burleigh County (Bismarck), too, property taxes are on their way up. This story will no doubt be repeated across the state, if tax increases haven’t already been announced, as the year comes to an end.

What’s amazing is that the property tax base in these cities are growing. More homes, and more businesses and more developed property means more property tax revenues even if valuations and mills were to remain static. There is, to put it simply, more property to tax and thus more revenues on top of what the state is spending on the “property tax relief.”

What’s not changing is the relentless drive, by local officials, to spend more money. As we can see from this chart showing property tax revenues going back to 1984, the state property tax buy-downs begun in 2007 might have reset property tax levels, but they’ve done nothing to change the growth trajectory.

The upward climb is relentless:


At some point, we’re going to have to admit that more state spending at the local level does nothing to alleviate the property tax problem. In fact, it exacerbates our overall tax problem by obligating the state to more local spending while leaving locals free to continue spending growth in other areas.

The legislature never should have opened this can of worms back in 2007.

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • kevindf

    The stage is being set for sky high property and income taxes for those in the productive private sector in order to further enrich those who lollygag on the state payroll.

    • dakotacyr

      Quick, Quick, here comes the Waaaaambulance again.

      • kevindf

        Have you been a lollygagger your entire life?

    • jimmypop

      this form of taxation is one of the most fair around. you want to live big, you pay more. you want to live little, you pay less. only thing better is consumption.

      in affect you get to pick your level of taxation. i wish i could pick my level of income tax.

      • Rob

        Take Yeah, it’s so fair of you fall behind on the taxes because they keep going up and you’re on a fixed income they take it away. Or, as happens more often, youre forced to.sell to pay the taxes.

        You have a funny definition of “fair.”

      • kevindf

        Why should anyone pay more for the same level of “services?”

  • Roy_Bean

    We would benefit more from a 2% reduction in sales tax. I think cities are limited as to how much they can raise the sales tax so that would be actual tax relief.

  • jimmypop

    “Here in Minot, property owners will be hit with a 5% levy hike and an average 10% increase in property valuations ”

    there is no way that number is real. what was your house worth prior last year and the year prior?

    my guess is they are being FAR too nice on you. with rents for a three bedroom unit in excess of $3,000 there is no home in that town worth less than $200,000 right now. even a shed in someones back yard is worth $25,000…..

    anyway, your taxes need to pay for all the ‘winning’ you have going on. welcome to being a real town/ county that has to pay for itself. best of luck.

    • Rob

      I should have kept the letter they sent me about the valuation. But go ahead and think I’m lying. A relative’s home in Bismarck went up $20,000 in valuation.

      You’re the most ignorant know-it-all I think I’ve ever met.

      • jimmypop

        defensive much?

        anyway, sorry rob. i meant ‘real’ in terms of accurate. thus the rest of my note…. and taxes on your house is public record. i dont have the time nor desire to research where you actually live. my point was that your house is almost certainly under assessed right now. even if you live in a one bedroom shack.

        • Rob

          If i could sell my home for what they have it assessed at I’d do a minute. You, as usual, have no idea what you’re talking about.

          • jiimmypop

            ok, i now have to ask this question; what is your home currently assessed at?

  • Big Bully

    Has anyone heard from Andy Peterson from the State Chamber on this? He was the expert on all things property taxed. To 74% of the voters in North Dakota, he was the second coming – the one with the stone tablets from the mountain.

    • Rob

      I’m guessing we’ll just get crickets now from him on this.

  • The Whistler

    Greedy is as greedy does.

    Why does the real estate market valuation going up mean that there is a need for more government spending? I don’t see a connection there unless they both rise by a general rate of inflation.

    When the real estate market goes down does the government cut your tax bill?

  • tony_o2

    We should eliminate the property tax buy-downs and make the local taxpayers pay the full cost of their local spending. When they see their property tax increases grow even faster than they are now, they might consider getting their spending priorities in order.

    Or they might just vote yes on the next initiated measure to have their local responsibilities passed onto the State-level taxpayers…..