The value of real estate in Jamestown per person lags behind values in other major cities of the state, according to Jamestown Mayor Dwaine Heinrich.
Heinrich made the comment during budget meetings of the Jamestown City Council. Calculations show Jamestown has a taxable value of $2,861 per person while the average of the top 10 cities in North Dakota is $4,319 per person.
The figures are for taxable value which is 4.5% of the true and full value of residential property and 5% of the true and full value of commercial and agricultural property.
Jamestown ranks ninth in the state in population and is part of the calculated average for the top 10 cities. The cities with the highest taxable value per person are Dickinson at $5,682 in taxable value per person., Williston at $5,374 taxable value per person and Bismarck at $5,301 taxable value per person.
What it does mean is each mill of property tax generates less government revenue in Jamestown than in other major cities. One mill of property tax in Bismarck, for example, generates $5.30 per resident of the city. In Jamestown, the same mill generates $2.86 per resident.
Heinrich said there were several reasons taxable value in Jamestown trails other major cities in North Dakota.
"Because we have a higher than average incident of government property in Jamestown," he said. "We have the State Hospital, Southcentral Human Services Center, University of Jamestown and a lot of churches. That's not a bad thing."
Jamison Veil, Jamestown city assessor, said properties owned by governments and nonprofits are exempt from property taxation under North Dakota Law.
"We have some large facilities with a lot of employees that fall into that category," he said.
Heinrich said industrial growth outside of Jamestown has not helped raise the valuation within city limits.
"A lot of the development that is considered Jamestown is out a Spiritwood," he said. "That doesn't mean Jamestown is a poor town."
The Spiritwood Energy Park Association industrial park is jointly owned by the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. and Great River Energy. Dakota Spirit AgEnergy is located within the industrial park and Spiritwood Station, a coal-fired steam and electric generating plant, is located adjacent.
Veil said roughly 52% of Jamestown's valuation comes from residential property with about 48% from commercial property.
In Bismarck, 62% of valuation is attributable to residential property and 38% to commercial property. Average value of a residential home in Bismarck is $242,000 with the average value of a residential home in Jamestown at $146,000.
And while one mill of property tax generates less tax revenue per person in Jamestown than other communities, it doesn't mean the cost of government is any lower.
Sarah Hellekson, city administrator, said costs of some departments, such as the police department, are based on the population.
"It depends on a lot of things," she said, referring to factors that go into a city's expense budget.
Heinrich said he would not call Jamestown a "property poor city" and said each community in the state is different. He noted Dickinson and Williston have higher property values and also higher collections on sales tax but also have higher expenses for city government.
"It absolutely does impact the mill rate calculations," he said, referring to the lower valuation per person. "We have to be more imaginative because it does not drive down the cost of government."