Letter to the editor: County Commission needs to plan ahead for revenue“Stutsman County has been trying to increase property taxes the last 25 years to take care of the roads,” said Connie Ova, CEO, Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. (audio, 7/19, County Commission meeting).
By: Judy Graves, The Jamestown Sun
“Stutsman County has been trying to increase property taxes the last 25 years to take care of the roads,” said Connie Ova, CEO, Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. (audio, 7/19, County Commission meeting).
Property taxes are calculated from taxable valuation. Stutsman County’s taxable valuation in 1990 was $33,887,257, steadily increasing to today’s valuation of $63,329,007. In the last 21 years, the county’s taxable valuation has almost doubled; all the while our county road system has been allowed to deteriorate to its present dire condition.
Noel Johnson, Stutsman County’s chief operating officer/auditor, said, “Farmland values are based on a state-mandated formula. The figures show we need to increase farmland values by 9 percent this year.” And he warned the commissioners that the increase next year could be as much as 26 percent (Jamestown Sun, 6/8).
Think about this: Stutsman County has 1,351,409 agricultural acres, which generated $6,151,502 of levied county taxes in 2010 (North Dakota Property Statistical Report). We could be realizing a 35 percent increase on agricultural property valuation this year and next, so how much new tax revenue will be generated? Taxpayers never hear about that figure! If the 9 percent increase to 2011’s agricultural property valuation generates $553,635 of new tax revenue, one could speculate the 26 percent increase next year will easily double or could triple this figure.
However, in visiting with the new tax director, there are too many variables still up in the air to calculate with any accuracy where the 2012 agricultural property valuations will end exactly. But all indications point to them going up as a whole.
So while the last 25 years of increased property taxes “haven’t taken care of” the county roads, maybe it’s time we ask our County Commission what its spending intentions are for any new revenue generated by these two years of increased agricultural property valuation. It won’t be a cure-all, and it won’t shut down 911 or county employees won’t lose their jobs, as this is new revenue generated from increased property taxes.
The County Commission needs to be thinking ahead about applying some of the new revenue on the county roads, before it all gets quietly absorbed into the county departments. Unless of course the interim recorder is planning on swinging a 35 percent raise for all the county employees, like she did for the special deputy with the County Commission.