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Published April 12, 2013, 10:43 PM

City leaders want tax relief, but not with caps

In this final stretch of the legislative session, local leaders are pushing North Dakota lawmakers for property tax relief. But at the same time, they don't want the state to mandate a collection cap on the city.

In this final stretch of the legislative session, local leaders are pushing North Dakota lawmakers for property tax relief. But at the same time, they don't want the state to mandate a collection cap on the city.

With only a few weeks left before the current session ends, the Grand Forks legislative committee is urging passage of the property tax relief bill 2036. But another bill, 1290, takes it one step farther by placing a cap on property taxes, which the group says could lead to funding problems.

Grand Forks leaders say they're always for property tax relief, just not putting a cap on what they can tax if needed.

John Bernstrom, Grand Forks Legislative Committee: "It really handcuffs you as far as city budgeting."

City leaders say a cap could hinder the town. For example, they say in the case of emergencies like a flood, the city wants to be able to raise property taxes if needed. The original version of House Bill 1290 wouldn't allow that, however an amendment would. And, the local leader's opposition to the bill goes farther than just emergencies. They say it would make it more difficult to fund projects down the road.

Bernstrom: "The city is also growing, looking to build a new fire station in the future."

A new city water treatment plant is also being discussed. House Bill 1020 would grant $5 million to start the planning process.

Bernstrom: "This session we haven't had to ask for a lot, on the city side we've done our best to maintain our tax level."

Grand Forks leaders are hopeful the property tax relief and water treatment bills will be passed.

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