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Potential county tax increase will draw public ire

There have probably been few years in which the possibility of a Ward County property tax increase of virtually any size would attract a great deal of attention – and not the good kind.

Tax hikes are generally loathed on any occasion by most people, regardless of either their personal circumstances or the genuine needs of the taxing body.

However with the recent sizable increase in Minot city property taxes – a move that set off a firestorm of controversy and resentment -this is particularly true today.

In the case of Ward County, the commission agreed this week to create a sinking fund of three mills in the preliminary budget for 2020 to back up any potential shortfall in sales tax. The reasoning is to supplement sales tax collections being used to pay for recent building projects – including bonds of nearly $79 million on the county office building and jail expansion. According to Ward County, monthly sales tax revenues have decreased to $300,000 to $400,000 a month, instead of the $566,000 estimated to be the six-month average.

It remains in the discussion phase as the county continues to work on the budget over the next few months.

County property tax is not a huge component of a Minot property owner’s tax bill. The most recent numbers available have a Minot tax bill on a $200,000 home consisting of $1,167 for the City of Minot, $1,021 for Minot Public Schools, $649 for Ward County, $320 for Minot Park District and $9 for N.D. medical school.

However, any form of tax increase this year is likely to be wildly unpopular. Residents are already making their feelings known in social media.

It is a precarious situation. Ward County might be able to make a perfectly logical case for the possible increase. Yet the City of Minot also made a logical case and did a very good job at disseminating information about the reason for its increase, but it did not appease those burdened with extra expense.

Minot Daily News strongly suggests that Ward County go above and beyond expectations when it comes to informing and listening to the community during the budget process. Additionally, MDN suggests taxpayers pay close attention to the budget process and particularly discussions of the possible tax hike. It’s the responsible thing for the county and the public to do.

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