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City, County budgets may appease taxpayers

Many in Minot are still smarting from last year’s city property tax increase, and for good reason. It was a decided increase last year.

Yes, the City of Minot offered a detailed, rational explanation for the need for last year’s increase. Previous city councils and administrations had kept property taxes low by using sales tax during the Bakken boom to pay for essential services – a public policy routinely excoriated in most places. Booms don’t last, sales tax revenue can increase or decrease based on many factors, and Minot isn’t the first city to learn that there will be a reckoning at one time or another.

According to the City, and backed by a comprehensive discussion of the prior budget with Minot Daily News, that reckoning happened last year.

At the same time, officials told MDN that they believed that such an increase was unlikely to be necessary this year. That’s why news this week that City and County taxes aren’t going up should be welcomed by every taxpayer.

In Minot, taxes are remaining steady, taking into consideration the 7.94 mills that the proposed city 2020 budget is down will be paid by taxpayers to the Minot Park District because the city’s recreation department has merged with Parks. It’s a neutral net effect on taxpayers.

Under the proposed plan, a Minot home at the median value of $179,000 would pay $977 in city taxes. A Minot home at the median value of $178,000 in 2019 paid $1,035.

Ward County does taxpayers one better if keeping taxes down is the primary objective. Besides no recent significant increase, calculations show the tax levy dropping about 11 mills, or about a 15% tax decrease this year.

For those who struggled with last year’s city increase, the initial City and County tax announcements this week should be a breath of fresh air.

Maybe the tax news will prompt something else. Last year’s Minot property tax increase fed the fire of agitation in the community. That agitation didn’t start with the tax hike or even during this administration, but it was the tax hike that hit people where it hurts – in their wallets.

Perhaps City taxes leveling off will appease some taxpayers, calm fears of near-future major increases, and buttress public confidence in their leaders.

MDN believes both Ward County and the City of Minot have done a solid job on their budgets, resulting in no tax increases this year. Furthermore, MDN believes skeptical taxpayers would benefit from taking a look at this year’s final budgets and letting their voices be heard.

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