Lee Finstad, Grand Forks, Published April 14 2012
Measure 2 disaster for veteransMeasure 2 spells disaster for all North Dakota veterans.
If it passes, this measure will negatively impact the delivery of benefit services to veterans and county employees. It appears to me from reading the relevant statutes that if Measure 2 passes, there will be no funds in the short run for these county offices. I am alarmed at the possible negative consequences veterans may suffer if this passes.
In addition to affecting veterans and the individual county veteran service officers, many county employees working in a support role in these offices may find themselves unemployed if this measure becomes law.
If the proponents of Measure 2 had included a plan to make sure the veterans will continue to receive service by the county veteran service office, then maybe the measure might be acceptable to veterans, but it is extremely difficult for me to imagine a positive outcome for veterans if this measure passes.
The worst-case scenario would be that all of the county veteran offices that are funded by the statutory measure would close, and the next-worst scenario would be that somehow these services that are provided to veterans from the county would become a state responsibility.
Neither one of these scenarios are acceptable because no matter what would follow the passage of Measure 2 as it is now stated, the proposed law would result in chaos for veteran services.
I would invite all voters to examine the statutes below and make up their own minds. Do we want to approve a constitutional measure that will bring chaos to veterans and county employees? How about 911 services? How about the property tax relief afforded disabled firefighters and police officers?
If the proponents think the Legislature can easily fix any funding shortfalls following passage of Measure 2, they have no understanding of the complexity of the problem and limitations imposed on the Legislature. How is the Legislature supposed to know how to fund Dunn County as opposed to Grand Forks County? The notion is absurd.
The statutes funding county veteran services are found under NDCC 57-15, which is the chapter that governs property taxation.
- 57-15-06.4. Levy authorized for county veterans’ service officer’s salary, traveling and office expenses. The county commissioners of each county may levy annually a tax not exceeding the limitation in subsection 18 of section 57-15-06.7 to provide a fund for the payment of the salary, traveling and office expenses of the county veterans’ service officer authorized to be appointed by section 37-14-18.
- 57-15-06.7. Additional levies – Exceptions to tax levy limitations in counties. 18. A county levying a tax for a county veterans’ service officer’s salary, traveling and office expenses in accordance with section 57-15-06.4 may levy a tax not exceeding two mills.
Every veteran, police officer, firefighter and county resident should get out the vote in the June primary and vote “no” on Measure 2. A “no” vote is a sane vote.
Finstad is a life member of the Special Forces Association, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, AmVets and Vietnam Veterans of America.
Have a comment to share about a story? Letters to the editor should include author’s name, address and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words. All letters are subject to editing. Send a letter to the editor.