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Published February 06, 2012, 10:16 PM

Even Before June Vote, Measure 2 Could Stop City Projects

A proposed measure to eliminate property taxes in North Dakota has Grand Forks city leaders unsure of what will happen to city finances if it passes.

A proposed measure to eliminate property taxes in North Dakota has Grand Forks city leaders unsure of what will happen to city finances if it passes.

The Grand Forks City Council is beginning to assess the potential effects if Initiated Measure 2 is approved by voters on June 12th.

There are several questions and possible implications City Attorney Howard Swanson has outlined to the council, including many uncertainties that would impact the city.

In two memos he wrote to council members on January 23 and January 31, Swanson indicates that if the measure is passed, it will have a big impact on the way the city issues debt and on the way it adopts the annual budget.

Budgeting would be greatly impacted by the legislature's decisions and could result in a loss of local control.

Swanson also points out the impact the measure could have on special assessments issued by the city.

"We're in a period of time now where even special assessments are affected as to what we can do until we know if for sure whether Measure 2 passes or not. It will be our recommendation that the city probably not do business as normal as it relates to special assessments until we know what happens with Measure 2," Swanson said.

If the measure passes, it will be retroactive to January 1st of this year. Because of that, Swanson says it impacts a number of types of projects the city could be doing this year but will now wait until some of the rules that would come with the measure are more clear.

The city council will meet in a work session to assess the impacts this has for the interim period between January 1st and June 12th.

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