Former council member Terry Bjerke says he's leaving Grand Forks because of high taxes
Local advocate for small government Terry Bjerke was packing his car Monday to leave Grand Forks, his home of the last 40 years, for good. "I'm moving because the taxes are too high," Bjerke said. "I don't need to be babysat by the government whe...
Local advocate for small government Terry Bjerke was packing his car Monday to leave Grand Forks, his home of the last 40 years, for good.
"I'm moving because the taxes are too high," Bjerke said. "I don't need to be babysat by the government when I can take care of myself. I'd rather have the money than the so-called 'amenities.'"
Bjerke, who represented what is currently council member Danny Weigel's ward from 2000 to 2002 and again from 2008 to 2016, will now live in an undisclosed township near Manvel, N.D., north of Grand Forks.
"In the county, (taxes are) less because you don't have all the things the city has," Bjerke said. "You have your own septic system, stuff like that."
Bjerke said he looks forward to having more freedom in the county.
"I want to shoot fireworks off," he said. "Or burn the trash. Or get the BB guns out with the kids ... everything's fine out there."
Bjerke adamantly opposed rising property taxes and "big government" while on the council, he said.
"If you ever want to be amused, watch an old budget meeting from September in the years I was on there." he said. "Because I used to spend three hours making budget cut motions, and they all lost. But I had fun."
He remained a staunch opponent after losing the mayoral election to Mayor Mike Brown in 2016. Despite his loss, Bjerke noted he still won nearly forty percent, showing what he called a significant "level of dissatisfaction" among constituents.
Bjerke noticed what he called the city's increasingly "insatiable appetite" for government spending after the flood of 1997.
"We became much more of a city where the government does everything for everyone," Bjerke said. "I've always been for police, fire, the basic things. But we drive around $500,000 buses with nobody on them, we pay a guy to come pick up recycling and he drives by every other house, and I can go on and on and on."
"I would recommend, if you can, leave," Bjerke said. "I don't think it's going to change. ... I tell people if you're financially able and you have the ability to move ... move outside of city limits."