Leon L. Mallberg, Dickinson, N.D., Published February 19 2014
Letter: Here is how a corrupt property tax system really works in NDI was told by a prominent North Dakota legislator during the last session that “if your property value is raised by the assessor, it doesn’t mean that your property taxes will go up.” If you believe that, you also will believe “if you like your health insurance policy, you can keep it, period.” Both statements rank right up there with “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”
I built a commercial building 38 years ago – a rather plain, utilitarian steel building constructed when Dickinson needed all the economic thrust that it could muster. The property taxes were not low but were reasonable. The taxes ranged from $1,900 to $3,900 per year with some ups and downs due to some questionable decisions by the City Commission involving special assessment bonds.
In 2010, the taxes were $2,860 after 35 years. In the year 2013, the taxes were $8,642, which is a 202 percent increase (2011-13). Am I losing my marbles, or is something wrong? The taxes are 200 percent more per year now than they were per annum for the first 35 years. I don’t want to be chintzy, but it looks like I’m being played as a yutz, fool or patsy. The assessed value went from $167,000 in 2010 to $444,500 in 2013 (which is one man’s opinion). All these numbers can be verified at the Stark County Courthouse.
I went to the assessor, and he seemed offended by me even showing up – no change. I went to the City Commission meeting two days after I got my property tax statement, and all I got was “you should be grateful your property is appreciating in value.” I then went to the County Commission meeting on Jan. 7 and was told there was nothing they could do but they “were very concerned and very sorry.”
After the meeting, I was informed that commission functions included budgeting, spending taxpayer money and administering administrative matters – period. The calculation and collection of taxes was “done by others.” Remember, the Dickinson School District requested a 23 percent increase in property taxes, but that was to be covered by the state’s “property tax relief” – not. And the state government just rings their hands and takes no responsibility.
Remember when all the status quo people and the property tax spenders told us that property taxes are local, controlled local, and should remain local (and I can give you the ringleaders’ names)? That was all a charade and nothing but slogans. It’s like saying “you have to triple your contribution or something bad might happen to your kneecaps.” The Mafia was the only one to get away with that, but local government is muscling in. The Mafia, however, could go to jail.
In the immortal words of Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf: “This is nothing but male bovine excretion.”