Mike Connor, Starkweather
Measure 2 scares me, as it should scare every North Dakota voter. If Measure 2 passes, residents are going to have to live with decisions that should be made locally by city and county commissions, school and park boards and so many other locally appointed/elected boards being made by a state Legislature that meets (as mandated by the state Constitution) for only 80 days every two years.
Ralph Kingsbury (Grand Forks Herald 4/21/12) writes "....the sky didn't fall with earlier elimination of ND (personal property) tax." As a young person I can remember the local assessor a farm neighbor driving into the yard to check out what was new in my parents farm home and always having a cup of coffee at the table with my parents while he went through his "list."
Kingsbury is right, the sky didn't fall when the personal property tax was eliminated, but a lot of things were different then as far as local government expenditures as compared to the demand for local services now. I can also remember as a member of the Devils Lake City Commission, in the early '80s, driving to Bismarck to plead the city's case for Community Development Block Grant funds that were distributed at that time by a state legislative committee chaired by the lieutenant governor. The request for funds were like those presented to your local United Fund, mostly all deserving and good projects, but there was only so much money available, so the great majority of those requesting funds came home from Bismarck empty handed. For the past 20-plus years those same funds have been distributed by regional planning councils except for the four metro areas and local people decide on the need for local projects. I currently serve on a senior meals and services board that provides meals, transportation and outreach services to four counties in this part of the state. We are faced with a constant struggle to secure enough local funds through county mill levies and other sources to match up with state/federal funds to provide needed services to our seniors. This past year we have been in the terrible position of having to limit the number of meals we provide in the congregate setting due to lack of funds. If Measure 2 passes, who is going to plead the case for senior services in Bismarck? Not volunteer board members who receive no compensation for their time spent now.
Measure 2 supporters would have us believe that the Legislature will just step up to the plate and take care all our local needs whatever they may be. The state Legislature has a hard time coping with handling state business right now, so don't look for the "state money fairy" to wave a magic wand and make everything just right. Hopefully Measure 2 will go down in defeat as it should, but our state legislators and local elected officials need to heed the wakeup call that that a lot of state taxpayers have had it "up to here" with the idea that as taxable valuations increase mill levies can remain the same or even be raised.
Vote "no" on Measure 2 in 2012 and hope that conditions change so it is never proposed again in North Dakota.