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Published March 01, 2012, 09:17 PM

Uncertainty Surrounds ND Measure 2's Impacts

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - City leaders are trying to get a handle on possible implications ballot Measure Number 2 will have for the city, if it passes in June.

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - City leaders are trying to get a handle on possible implications ballot Measure Number 2 will have for the city, if it passes in June.

Measure 2 would eliminate property taxes as a source of government revenue at any level, across the state.

Just the possibility of its passage has already affected city projects and development.

The measure has a retroactive date of January 1, so if it passes, city projects that rely on special assessments may be delayed. And as spring nears and the construction season gets underway, the city is working with developers to decide what projects can move forward now.

"If Measure 2 passes, then we won't have in 2012, I firmly believe, we won't have a mechanism to do special assessments," Grand Forks city engineer Al Grasser said.

The city's bond counsel won't issue any special assessment bonds until the fate of Measure 2 is decided, putting a temporary halt to some city projects, unless developers decide to move forward on their own.

"In that instance if they want to proceed with development and get houses built, they'll need to be prepared to install the streets themselves," Grasser said.

"This will affect cities, counties, park districts, airport districts, airport authorities (and) schools," city attorney Howard Swanson said.

If measure two passes on June 12, North Dakota will be the first state to eliminate property taxes. Some city leaders say that will take away local budget control and decisions will be made in the state legislature.

"As far as how you would be able to communicate the local government's needs to the state legislature, I have no idea how that will occur. Those details are not provided in Measure 2," Swanson said.

"We're unsure of what new regulations would be required of cities. We're unsure of tax sources, of income level amounts, processes," city council member Elliot Glassheim said.

On Monday the city council will discuss temporary policies on how to move forward with city projects in this interim period before the vote. They agreed Thursday night that they need policies in place so they don't lose any construction time if this measure fails.

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