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Grand Forks County meets Tuesday to discuss 2014 budget; credit aims to cut tax bills

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Grand Forks County meets Tuesday to discuss 2014 budget; credit aims to cut tax bills
Grand Forks North Dakota 375 2nd Ave. N. 58203

While it's still too early to know for sure, real estate taxes could drop by about 18 percent in 2014 for homeowners in Grand Forks School District.

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"That's assuming there is no increase in mills or valuation," said Debbie Nelson, Grand Forks County finance and tax director.

For owners of a house worth about $169,000, the average home value in the district, that would be a decrease of about $560, from $3,103 to $2,543, she said.

That's the total estimated tax bill for Grand Forks County, Grand Forks School District, City of Grand Forks and Grand Forks Park District, plus state and soil conservation levies.

Local governments still are working on their 2014 budgets, so nothing is final yet.

And it's likely that valuations in the city of Grand Forks will rise by an average of about 3 percent, according to information Nelson has received from the city tax assessor's office. Valuation increases would decrease the tax savings, she said.

Valuations were unchanged between 2012 and 2013.

The total tax reduction is largely the result of legislation by the 2013 North Dakota Legislature.

SB 2036 provides a 12-percent credit against property taxes throughout the state. The state, in turn, makes up the difference.

Another bill, HB 1013, provides a 50-mill state buydown of school district property taxes. One mill is equal to one-tenth of a penny and is used to determine property taxes.

However, Grand Forks School District is proposing a 2014 budget that carries a 28-mill tax reduction, rather than the 50 mills provided by the state. That would be a 28.6-percent increase in school taxes school officials say is necessary to offset an estimated $6 million budget deficit.

As a result, the owner of a home valued at $169,000 likely would see a reduction in the school district portion of their tax bill of about $213 in 2014, about half of what the legislation originally would have provided.

Residents of other school districts in the county could receive the full benefit of the state buydown, so their tax savings could be greater, according to Nelson. However, each district has establishes its own annual budget.

While the Grand Forks County Commission's finance and tax committee has been working on the 2014 budget, the full County Board is scheduled to consider the preliminary budget when it meets Tuesday.

Call Bonham at (701) 780-1110; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1110; or send email to kbonham@gfherald.com.

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Kevin Bonham
Kevin Bonham covers regional news, mostly from northeast North Dakota, for the Grand Forks Herald. A North Dakota native who grew up in Mandan and Dickinson, he has been a reporter or an editor with the Herald and Forum Communications for more than 30 years. Find his articles at: www.grandforksherald.com. He welcomes story ideas via email, kbonham@gfherald.com, or by phone, (701) 780-1110.  
(701) 780-1110
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