Candidate Questionnaire: Levy Taxes or Lobby the Legislature?

Minot City Council Candidates

The Question:

Assume the initiated measure to fund North Dakota’s local governments via state legislative appropriations instead of local property taxes is approved for the November ballot. Also assume that in June, you are elected to the local office you are seeking. In July, your new administrative team (City, Park, School) evaluates the property tax initiative and determines that it will indeed result in a loss of local control. As such, they bring your board a resolution against the ballot initiative; it is their opinion that the ballot initiative is bad for the institution you’ve been elected to oversee. The ND Attorney General issues a ruling that passing such a resolution does not violate any sections of North Dakota law. As an elected leader, you are required to vote. How do you vote on the Resolution Against Losing Local Control?

About the Question

Perhaps the resolution part of this scenario is far fetched, but the question of where funding for local services will come from is very real. Citizens are currently gathering signatures to see this placed on the November ballot. So, it’s a fair question for candidates both on the mechanics of the issue and as a measure of whether they’re willing to use their authority as a local leader to speak out on a current topic. Plus, if you didn’t know, all our local governments levy property taxes.

Rob Fuller

I don’t believe local control would be lost – based off of how the current bill/legislation is written. But playing the ‘what if’ game, I believe I would vote against the Resolution Against Losing Local Control. My decision would be based on several key considerations: Firstly, while local control is important, there are potential benefits to having state legislative appropriations fund local governments. A state-funded system could lead to a more equitable distribution of resources across different regions. This could help address disparities where some localities may have a limited tax base and struggle to fund essential services adequately. A centralized funding model could ensure that all communities, regardless of their local wealth, receive sufficient funding to maintain high-quality services.

Secondly, a state-level approach could lead to administrative efficiencies and reduced redundancy. By consolidating funding mechanisms, the state might streamline processes and reduce the administrative burden on local governments. This could potentially free up local resources to focus more on service delivery rather than on complex tax collection and financial management.

Additionally, shifting to state appropriations could stabilize funding sources. Local property taxes can be subject to fluctuations based on economic conditions and property values, leading to variability in revenue. State appropriations, on the other hand, might provide a more stable and predictable source of funding, allowing for better long-term planning and budgeting. Moreover, there is a potential for relief to taxpayers. Local property taxes can be a significant burden, especially for homeowners on fixed incomes. A shift to state funding could lead to a reduction or elimination of local property taxes, potentially easing the financial burden on residents and making housing more affordable.

In conclusion, voting against the Resolution Against Losing Local Control would be based on the potential for greater equity, administrative efficiency, funding stability, taxpayer relief, and the opportunity for continued local advocacy within a state-funded system. This decision would reflect a broader perspective on resource distribution and fiscal management, aiming to enhance the overall well-being of all residents in our community and beyond. But again – the way Dr. Becker has written the legislation – local control is not given up if this legislation is approved by the taxpayers.

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Mike Blessum

My vote would be no on the resolution. The entire discussion around the property tax measure has been framed incorrectly. I am in favor of the initiative because of the limiting effect it has on the state budget, but am under no illusions that it will do much to reduce the overall burden on local taxpayers long-term unless we get local spending under control. I also believe that moving away from ad velorem property tax is essential to the well being of our residents. Simply moving to a per square foot, per parcel, or per road frontage based calculation would remove much of the risk and frustration related to assessments from the system. The property tax measure removes ad velorem property tax as a possibility, but opens the door for the legislature to authorize other methods of tying local taxation to property.

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Mike Gietzen

This candidate did not provide a response.

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Scott Samuelson

This candidate did not provide a response.

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Scott Burlingame

“He who has the gold makes the rules.” This phrase emphasizes the influence and power that financial resources can wield in governance. If the State Legislature controls all the “gold” they will submit their will on the people of Minot. I don’t think an elected official from Gackle, Fargo, or Pembina knows enough about the needs of Minot to make decisions for our city. Local government is often considered the most conservative form of government because it embodies key principles of conservatism such as limited government and local control. We don’t need activists or political partisans from Washington, DC or other parts of North Dakota running our city.

I would vote to keep Minot decisions in Minot.

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Leif Snyder

It’s a resolution so it means very little and the will of the people is what the will of the people is, I don’t see my vote changing anything  even if i don’t like the initiated measure as written.  Details matter and questions need to be asked.  Is it really an initiated measure to abolish “property taxes” or is is an initiated measure to abolish “property taxes based on accessed property value”?  Could local governing bodies then levy taxes based on the number of rooms in your home or the number of windows and square footage you have?  The number of garage stalls?  Some might laugh but thats how some taxes have been decided in the past in other locations, of which I do not support.

To begin the legacy fund could likely fund some of the needs but we all know it will run out and not that far into the future, but then what? Say in 8 years the Legacy Fund is gone, now do we have to lobby the State Legislature for funding and complete against Fargo and Bismarck for funding?  That is a battle we will likely lose every time.  That being said lobbying the legislature is a better option than taxing Minot Citizens any more.  Will special assessments become the norm?  The term “local control” can mean many different things, remember deciding who to tax and who to give tax breaks too is also a form of “local control”  that I think is used far too often for select individuals.

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Stephan Podrygula

Local control is one of the cornerstones of our government, and I would vote in support of any resolution against losing it.

If you feel that local government doesn’t “listen” to its constituents, do you really think that the people in Bismarck will be any more attentive? There, the voice of the average citizen will be drowned out by lobbyists, big campaign-finance contributors, and out-of-state interests (with tons of money and influence), moving policy and spending in directions they – not you – want.

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Minot Public School Board Candidates

The Question:

Assume the initiated measure to fund North Dakota’s local governments via state legislative appropriations instead of local property taxes is approved for the November ballot. Also assume that in June, you are elected to the local office you are seeking. In July, your new administrative team (City, Park, School) evaluates the property tax initiative and determines that it will indeed result in a loss of local control. As such, they bring your board a resolution against the ballot initiative; it is their opinion that the ballot initiative is bad for the institution you’ve been elected to oversee. The ND Attorney General issues a ruling that passing such a resolution does not violate any sections of North Dakota law. As an elected leader, you are required to vote. How do you vote on the Resolution Against Losing Local Control?

About the Question

Perhaps the resolution part of this scenario is far fetched, but the question of where funding for local services will come from is very real. Citizens are currently gathering signatures to see this placed on the November ballot. So, it’s a fair question for candidates both on the mechanics of the issue and as a measure of whether they’re willing to use their authority as a local leader to speak out on a current topic. Plus, if you didn’t know, all our local governments levy property taxes.

Scott Louser

Considering I have publicly provided a solution for property taxes and I believe the solution is property tax reduction AND reform, while not amending the North Dakota Constitution, my answer is I would vote for the resolution. A very critical point that is rarely addressed in the public debate of this issue as it relates solely to schools is that the school district AND the voters would lose the ability to bond against future property tax collections in order to build a new building. My reading of the current proposed amendment would leave the local school boards at every district in North Dakota to turn to the legislature to ask for funding for a local school.

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Michael Gessner

Currently I am opposed as to what might, or could occur with possible loss of local control (no skin in the game). Right now our funding comes from 3 different sources. It’s like a 3 legged stool. If we lose one of the funding sources, State, federal, or local, especially local, I believe we then lose the touch we currently have of locally supporting things we, the citizens of Minot want, or don’t want to occur in our school system.

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KayLee Bourquin

This candidate did not provide a response.

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Bill Irmen

While it would be nice to not have to pay taxes, I would vote against the measure to do away with property taxes and thus local control.  Sure, I don’t love paying taxes.  But I understand that my taxes help pay for essentials like our roads, police force, fire department, schools, parks, sanitation department, sewer and water systems, etc.  As responsible citizens, we should participate in the funding of these services that make our society function.

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John Carey

While I appreciate the offer to participate in this candidate questionnaire sent to me by “TheMinotVoice”, I have respectively declined because I do not feel that answering hypothetical questions is helpful in addressing and solving our current problems. My positions and opinions on certain topics are based on the real world issues we’re currently facing in our school district. Thank you John Carey

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Darrik Trudell

This candidate did not provide a response.

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Lacey Laudenschlager

On top of strongly considering my administration’s recommendation, I would like to do my own due diligence evaluating the data, gathering input, and looking at the proposed plan for receiving revenue in lieu of property taxes, but my general preference would be to keep money local.

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Minot Park Board Candidates

The Question:

Assume the initiated measure to fund North Dakota’s local governments via state legislative appropriations instead of local property taxes is approved for the November ballot. Also assume that in June, you are elected to the local office you are seeking. In July, your new administrative team (City, Park, School) evaluates the property tax initiative and determines that it will indeed result in a loss of local control. As such, they bring your board a resolution against the ballot initiative; it is their opinion that the ballot initiative is bad for the institution you’ve been elected to oversee. The ND Attorney General issues a ruling that passing such a resolution does not violate any sections of North Dakota law. As an elected leader, you are required to vote. How do you vote on the Resolution Against Losing Local Control?

About the Question

Perhaps the resolution part of this scenario is far fetched, but the question of where funding for local services will come from is very real. Citizens are currently gathering signatures to see this placed on the November ballot. So, it’s a fair question for candidates both on the mechanics of the issue and as a measure of whether they’re willing to use their authority as a local leader to speak out on a current topic. Plus, if you didn’t know, all our local governments levy property taxes.

Chelsea Kirkhammer

As an elected leader, my vote on the Resolution Against Losing Local Control would be based on a careful consideration of the implications for our local governance, the community’s best interests, and the principle of local control.

While I support property tax relief, the loss of local control concerns me. Because of this, the complete elimination of property taxes is not something that I can be certain will be good for the people of Minot and our quality of life. Instead, it should be noted that local leaders must be considerate and careful when considering things like exemptions. As a local leader, I would need to gain input from residents before supporting any resolution.

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Deven Mantz

This candidate did not provide a response.

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Cliff Hovda

This candidate did not provide a response.

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About our Candidate Questionnaire:
We tried to get our candidates thinking. If you’d like to read the rest of the questions and candidate responses, here you go:

MinotVoice

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