Senate approves state takeover of county social services pilot program

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BISMARCK, ND - The Senate has approved a pilot program for the state to take over the management of county social services in order to provide property tax relief.

The program will pay out based on case load.

It does not match the full 12 percent buy down the legislature has passed in years past, meaning property tax bills across the state will go up.

Senators say the average reduction will be about 7.6 percent, but it will be based on how much the property owner's county pays in services.

Some lawmakers say reductions in personal and corporate income tax are to blame for the legislature not being able to fully fund the 12 percent buy down.

"This bill is not what it should be or what it was, but it is the only vehicle that we have to help relieve some of the pressure on property taxes in our state which I believe are high enough as they are right now," says Sen. Jim Dotzenrod, D-Wyndmere.

"If we had not put that back in the pockets of the hard-working, tax-paying citizens of this state, this body would have spent it all. We have seen what money in our pockets do to us. We have seen it with our spending," says Sen. Dwight Cook, R-Mandan.

This program will only last for two years, so lawmakers will have to take another look at it next session.