Three Burleigh County Commissioners Delinquent On Property Taxes


“A good example is the best sermon.” - Benjamin Franklin

Burleigh County Commissioner Mark Armstrong, a former radio show host on KFYR-AM and current communications director at ND Workforce Safety & Insurance, has long been a very visible member of the greater Bismarck-Burleigh community. That is in great part because, well, it has often been stated the most dangerous place to be in that community is between him and a television camera. Armstrong has long been a media hound, but cemented that reputation during the 2011 flood when the airwaves and internet were full of publicity surrounding him — and generated in part by him. His kayak trip on a swollen Missouri River (which was closed to all boat traffic for safety concerns, including his chosen watercraft type which amounts to an overgrown fishing bobber with seats) is the stuff of legend in Bismarck, in great part because he posted his trip on YouTube for all his constituents to see — the same constituents who were expected to stay off the water.

One would think a man this tuned in to publicity, and ensuring he gets as much of it as possible for himself, would go to great lengths to ensure nothing in his life could tarnish that self-generated image. That would start with some basics, such as ensuring property taxes were paid — the same property taxes that help fund his county commissioner salary. It appears, however (based on information received from the county auditors office by an open records request) that Armstrong didn’t think paying property taxes on time, like his constituents are expected to do, was that important. In fact, he has been delinquent on the last two years of property taxes, including over a year delinquent on his 2010 taxes:

Mark Armstrong Property Tax and Special Assessments

2010: $4,442.27 owed, including $513.59 in Penalties and Interest – Paid on Apr 3rd, 2012
2011: $3,997.83 owed, including $60.20 in Penalties and Interest – Also paid on Apr 3rd, 2012

Armstrong is not alone in his disregard for timely payment of his property taxes. He is joined by fellow Burleigh County Commissioners Jerry Woodcox and Doug Schonert.

Jerry Woodcox Property Tax and Special Assessments

1999: $3,954.83 owed, including $115.19 in Penalties and Interest – Paid on Oct 13th, 2000
2008: $5,388.58 owed, including $445.85 in Penalties and Interest – Paid on Nov 17th, 2009

Doug Schonert Property Tax and Special Assessments (several properties)

2008: $890.85 owed, including $25.95 in Penalties and Interest – Paid on May 6th, 2009
2009: $647.42 owed, including $10.00 in Penalties and Interest – Paid on Apr 6th, 2010

Commissioners Brian Bitner and Jim Peluso had no records of delinquency in their property tax payments. One could say they should be commended for this, but in reality they are just doing what is expected of every other citizen in the county. They probably would be the first to say that as well.

Armstrong and Schonert were re-elected to their current terms in 2010, and are up for re-election in 2014. Woodcox just filed for re-election. All three have been on the Burleigh County Commission for many years. One might cut Schonert some slack (and I am not necessarily advocating this) since his amounts owed were not great, nor was his lateness in paying. In the cases of Armstrong and Woodcox, however, the violations are gross and show utter disregard for the people they are supposed to serve.

If anything, they should step down and not run again. If they won’t, perhaps the voters in Burleigh County could help them out by not re-electing Woodcox, and recalling Armstrong (who finished 3rd in the election which sent the top three vote getters to office).

Or, Armstrong and the others who were delinquent could just get behind Measure 2, which would abolish property taxes if passed on the June ballot, so they won’t have to worry about property taxes anymore.



LegitSlater is a contributor who focuses on features primarily pertaining to state and local government as well as political parties, but has been known to dabble in other areas. LegitSlater has also been known to pinch hit for Rob when he is out and about in his worldly travels, or attending the occasional Yankees-Twins series. LegitSlater's numerous awards include the personal satisfaction received from informing the vast readership of SAB, spurring respectful debate, and hunting the trophy sacred cows which have been otherwise deemed off limits by the traditional media, elected officials, and the political parties.

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  • Captornado

    Do as I say not as I do.

  • Dustin Gawrylow

    Most people are consistently behind on their property taxes, the law used to allow people to be 5 years behind before recourse, now the law (in North Dakota) allows for 3 years lapse.  There have long been those who took the approach of not paying it until the house is at risk.

    • Rob

      No, most people are *not* consistently behind on their property taxes. I suspect that most people don’t even pay their property taxes directly, instead having them come out of an escrow set up through their mortgage. And among those who don’t do it that way, most pay in a timely manner.

    • Kevin Flanagan

      That’s good to know; I’ll take advantage of “the spread” from now on. 

  • Guest

    Rob,  Now you have gone and done it – you have badmouthed one of Stevie Cates good friends and he will hunt you down and try to ruin you (like he did those who opposed Sandy Blunt at WSI) because how dare you publish the truth about a friend of Stevie Cates.  Get ready for Steve to harass you and your family via phone calls and unsolicited emails at work and home because that is how he operates. 

  • RCND

    About time Armstrong got called on his BS

  • Aludra Dalal

    The author of this article has proven one thing: That he’s a petty tool. It’s articles like this on the local and national level that bring us all down. 

    • Captornado

      So you see no problem with elected officials not paying their taxes?

    • Rob

      I guess we here at SAB think people ought to pay their taxes.

    • JanuaryJones

      Calling people names? Looks like we have another high school student on here.

  • Hank

    Armstrong is a CLOWN, actually clowns dress better.  This idiot really should live in one of the true blue states as that is where his heart is.  He caused way too much fear during the recent preventable flood event and should have been tied up and locked away some where. Him getting re-elected proves that there are too few educated voters even here in good old Burleigh County.  I wonder if he cashed his County Commission checks during his non-payment years???

  • Lynn Bergman

    We need more posts like this to expose the character, or lack thereof, of politicians whom our school teachers told us were the best and brightest. The truth… politicians are a mirror image of the general population, some bright, some dumb as a box of rocks. It’s up to voters to pay attention.

    I am very proud to know Brian Bittner and Jim Peluso personally. They ARE doing what the rest of us should do out of habit, dutifully paying their taxes on time. THAT is leadership by example.

  • Phubaiphil

    Armstrong is not a surprise.  He and felow travelers like Steve Cates have tried to play God for years. 

    How Amrstrong has survived at WSI at $100 thousand a year is beyond belief.  PIO’s are supposed to keep their agencies in a good light.  Any good news from WSI?  He’s also been involved in many of the toxic scandals.

    With Blount, Cates and Armstong running WSI you have a buch of theocratic misfits masquarading as caring politicos.  Stop already!!!!!  Dallas