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Published May 17, 2012, 10:28 PM

Measure 2 opponents say bill is a big risk for North Dakota

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - We've heard from those in favor of abolishing property taxes in North Dakota, but according to a recent Forum Communications Poll, they are outnumbered almost three-to-one by people against it.

We've heard from those in favor of abolishing property taxes in North Dakota, but according to a recent Forum Communications Poll, they are outnumbered almost three-to-one by people against it.

The final installment of our series on Measure 2 takes a look at why those against abolishing property taxes say it’s far too big of a risk for North Dakota.

A surprising 74% of people polled believe replacing more than $800 million in state revenue isn't worth more money in their pocketbook. The opposition doesn't stop there. Dozens of statewide associations are firmly against the measure.

The North Dakota League of Cities, Association of Counties, Chamber of Commerce, AFL-CIO, Farmers Union, Association of Realtors, Petroleum Council, and Bankers Association are all against the measure, just to name a few.

Craig Whitney – CEO, FMWF Chamber of Commerce: “If people think that that kind of a loss to the state budget is just going to go away without being replaced, I think they have another thing coming.”

Opponents say the current structure of the North Dakota Legislature - a group that meets for 80 days, once every other year - would need a complete overhaul.

Dennis Walaker – Fargo Mayor: “We'd probably have to have a legislative session every year. We'd have to hire several hundred state employees to administer this.”

Fargo School Board President Jim Johnson is worried about the possibility of a one-size-fits-all approach.

Jim Johnson – Fargo School Board President: “We invest a lot in our community in terms of our infrastructure, our education, our commitment back to the community in parks. That's not necessarily always the case.”

The Keep It Local North Dakota Group agrees, saying quote, "The only other thing Measure 2 accomplishes is that it dramatically shifts the tax burden."

Jim Johnson: “You just better count on the fact that you don't have local control if the money is coming from Bismarck.”

All these local leaders agree. Measure 2 has opened many eyes, and say there needs to be at least some sort of Property Tax Reform.

Craig Whitney: “There needs to be a lot of reform and studies to make sure that we can remain competitive.”

Dennis Walaker: “Just doing away with this, to me, is poor public policy.”

Ultimately the decision will be up to the people. Whether to add a constitutional amendment to abolish property taxes will go before the voters on June 12th. If the measure does pass, it would be retro-active to January 1st of this year.

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