Some Williams County residents will be getting a shock when they get their tax bill in the mail next year, and the Williams County Commission is not happy about it.
As residential and commercial prices have drastically risen in the area, residents have been forced to pay higher taxes on their property. Countywide, people can expect a minimum of 40 percent increases in the valuation of their properties, according to Director of Tax Equalization Shawna Gooch-Egge.
The increase comes due to the fact that a state statute says the county must assess property in North Dakota by 100 percent of its market value.
“This is going to be the toughest year since I’ve been here,” Gooch-Egge said at Tuesday’s Williams County Commission meeting. “The girls that have been (in the tax equalization department) for 30 years don’t remember increases like this ever.”
If the county doesn’t fall into the 90-100 percent range, the state will get involved, raising values to the proper levels.. The state will also cut funding to the county if it fails to comply with state regulations.
Gooch-Egge said that the county had never seen valuations over $500,000 before this year. This year, they are seeing values of over $900,000.
When asked by Commissioner Barry Ramberg if it would be better for the county to be in charge of the increases or for the state to step in, Gooch-Egge said that it would be in the best interest of the people for the county to get involved.
“When our office does it, everyone gets a letter in the mail about what’s going on with their property values if the values are increased 10 percent or more or $3,000 in value,” said Gooch-Egge. “If the state does it, they don’t have to notify anybody, so these people don’t know until they get their tax bill in December and that to me is not that way to do things.”
Gooch-Egge said that while she was not aware of any other counties having to deal with a 40 percent increase in valuation, Ward County saw the state step in and increase values to 100 percent a few years ago.
While tax increases may come due to the large valuations, people won’t see 40 percent increases on their tax bill. The bill also includes a mill levy which determines the amount of money each government entity budgets. As the valuations go up, the amount of money these entities get from the mill levy should go down, but the system is not always perfect.
With people on fixed incomes already having to leave their apartments due to rapid rises in rent prices, County Commission Chairman Dan Kalil said now the state will be forcing people under similar circumstances out of their homes.
“The state of North Dakota has moved everybody on a fixed income out of their apartments. Now they’re going to do it on their houses,” said Kalil.
Gooch-Egge also noted during Tuesday’s meeting that residential properties in Tioga are selling for almost double what they had been previously been assessed for.
Kalil said he was tempted to fight the state on this issue, citing that it has been to blame for many of the problems Williams County is currently facing.
“I’m tempted to say if the state wants that kind of assessment, make them come up here and get it,” said Kalil. “When are we going to draw the line with this? It’s the same damn thing we’re up to every meeting that we sit here. Everything we deal with is a symptom, and it’s a symptom because the Industrial Commission was handing out drilling permits like they were theater tickets. Everything we deal with, from property to roads, is because of the unregulated mess they have made in our county. When are we going to say enough?”