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ND counties oppose online property tax information requirement

BISMARCK - Thousands of additional North Dakotans could see their property tax information posted online if state lawmakers pass a bill that's scheduled for its first hearing Wednesday.

BISMARCK – Thousands of additional North Dakotans could see their property tax information posted online if state lawmakers pass a bill that’s scheduled for its first hearing Wednesday.

The North Dakota Association of Counties is opposing the bipartisan bill, which would require all of the state’s counties to make property tax information available online, citing the potential cost to local taxpayers.

Currently, only 23 of the state’s 53 counties have parcel-by-parcel property tax information available on the Internet, either through the county’s official website or through a vendor, said Donnell Hushka, government affairs specialist for the association.

“There’s actually seven counties that don’t even have a website,” she said.

The bill led by Rep. Ben Hanson, D-West Fargo, would amend state law to require that each county maintain a website “containing an area dedicated to providing the public access to property tax information and notices.”

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Hanson, a commercial real estate agent, said the requirements under House Bill 1069 would improve access to property tax information and make it easier to find out who owns property, which would help developers.

He said it’s “silly” that Ward County, home to the state’s fourth-largest city in Minot, doesn’t have property tax information available online. Burleigh, Cass and Grand Forks counties all have searchable property tax areas on their county websites.

“I don’t want to cost anybody a lot of money, but I do want people to have universal access,” he said.

Hushka said counties support the concept of making the information available online for citizens, “but the cost is the big hang-up.” She said McLean County recently spent $6,000 making its information web-accessible, and that doesn’t include ongoing maintenance costs.

The Association of Counties will testify against the bill Wednesday before the House Finance and Taxation Committee, she said.

 

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