Wednesday, April 26, 2017 - 04:30 pm

BISMARCK, N.D. – Governor Doug Burgum today signed landmark legislation creating permanent, sustainable property tax relief by transitioning county social services costs to the state.

Senate Bill 2206 provides $160.7 million for a two-year pilot program that eliminates counties’ social services levy – up to 20 mills – and requires the state to pay the costs of county social services and economic assistance for 2018 and 2019. In turn, the state will discontinue its 12 percent property tax relief credit program, better known as the buydown program.

“Senate Bill 2206 gives permanency to a significant amount of property tax relief and is a more cost-effective and sustainable option than the buydown program, which lacked incentive to control local spending,” Burgum said. “Shifting the cost of social services to the state relieves counties of unfunded state and federal mandates and ensures that local taxpayers aren’t stuck footing the bill for services outside of their control.”

Under the bill, counties will be reimbursed for social services costs based on their actual caseloads. The state Department of Human Services (DHS) will analyze ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of social services delivery and submit a plan to the 2019 Legislature for a permanent funding formula.

The bill was approved 44-3 in the Senate and 75-15 in the House and had the support of the North Dakota Association of Counties. It’s part of more than $1.1 billion in state-funded property tax relief that will be provided in 2017-19.

“We are deeply grateful for the countless hours spent by legislators, county officials, the tax commissioner’s office, DHS staff and everyone else who worked on this historic legislation that will provide substantial relief to local property tax payers for years to come,” Burgum said.