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Lawmakers propose using legacy funds to pay property taxes

Published: Feb. 2, 2021 at 6:31 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - About two weeks ago, a group of Republican lawmakers introduced their proposal to use legacy funds dollars to fund in-state projects. Now, a different group of Republicans are introducing their proposal to use the Legacy Fund to pay off people’s property taxes.

The legislature created the Legacy Fund ten years ago, setting aside a fraction of oil extraction and production taxes as a way to provide for future generations. But, there are several bills under consideration now looking to tap into the nearly $7.9 billion fund.

The most recent proposal, would come out to $165 million per year.

Property taxes frequently come up as a concern for many homeowners.

“It goes up every year, it’s ridiculous,” said Bismarck homeowner Alvie Jarratt “Yes, it does,” agreed Bismarck homeowner Donna Steckler That’s why so many showed up to hear about the new proposal.

The group of lawmakers who signed onto the bill said their proposal would pay a third of everyone’s primary residence property tax in the state.

“Our goal as a legislative group is to create a true legacy and not just use legacy fund dollars to grow government,” said Rep. Jeff Magrum, R-Hazelton.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has hurt all sectors of life, some lawmakers were concerned the bill was only looking after homeowners, not renters.

“Rural homeowners who maybe fall through the cracks, maybe this is a method to help them out,” said Pete Hanebutt with the North Dakota Farm Bureau.

According to the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency, only about 60% of North Dakotans are homeowners with renters being more cost-burdened, some spending more than 30% of their income on housing.

The House Finance and Taxation Committee heard testimony on both Legacy Fund Investment proposals on Feb. 2, but closed both hearings without taking any action in either case.

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