GRAND FORKS COUNTY: Committee to write home rule charter
Grand Forks County will appoint a committee to write a home rule charter. That's the first step toward asking voters in June to approve a 1 percent county sales tax to pay off the construction debt on the $16 million county correctional center. A...
Grand Forks County will appoint a committee to write a home rule charter.
That's the first step toward asking voters in June to approve a 1 percent county sales tax to pay off the construction debt on the $16 million county correctional center.
A sales tax would reduce county property taxes by as much as 10 mills. It also would cut the time it will take to pay for the new jail from 17 years to four years and save the county as much as $3.5 million in interest payments, according to County Finance and Tax Director Debbie Nelson.
The North Dakota Century Code allows local governments to adopt home rule charters, which give those cities and counties the authority, among other things, to ask voters to approve local sales taxes.
If approved, home rule in Grand Forks County would take effect July 1. The sales tax would become effective Oct. 1.
The property tax reduction would be seen on 2008 taxes, those payable in 2009. A 10 mill reduction in real estate taxes would save the owner of a house valued at $150,000 about $70 a year.
Under the present plan using property taxes to pay off the jail construction bonds it will take 17 years to retire the debt.
Under the plan to use sales tax revenue, the debt could be erased in about four years.
Commissioners have said the measure on the ballot would include a sunset clause, which means the sales tax would expire once the jail construction debt is gone.
The County Board took the action Tuesday to appoint the home rule charter committee after reviewing results of a telephone survey conducted earlier this month to gauge support for a sales tax.
The survey, conducted by the Social Science Research Institute at UND, indicated that 56 percent of people answering the survey said they would favor implementing a sales tax to pay the debt service on the jail.
And, of the 56 percent who favor a sales tax, 80 percent, or 341 people, said they strongly or mildly favor a
1 percent sales tax.
County officials hope to have the measure placed on the June Primary ballot, which would include two questions: whether the county should adopt a home rule charter and whether the county should adopt a 1 percent sales tax.
The home rule charter question would have to pass before the sales tax could be approved. To pass, each would require a simple majority of people voting on that particular measure.
Reach Bonham at (701) 780-1269 or email@example.com .