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Priorities for property taxes

Published (1/30/2009)
By Sonja Hegman
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Creativity might be the key to finding ways to balance the state’s budget this year, and the House Property and Local Sales Tax Division is up to the challenge.

Last biennium, Rep. Paul Marquart (DFL-Dilworth), the division chairman, opened a property tax hotline so residents could either phone or e-mail suggestions on how to improve the state’s property tax system. At the division’s Jan. 28 meeting, he announced the division will have three main priority areas this year, and there will be working groups for each.

The priorities are:

• state property tax system benchmarks and critical indicators, which will be chaired by Rep. Denise Dittrich (DFL-Champlin). The goal is to provide state policymakers with the tools to create a more accountable and efficient property tax system;

• local government performance measurement and improvement program, which Marquart will chair. The goal is to provide taxpayers with greater value and enhance efficiency and performance of local governments; and

• local government decision-making flexibility and mandate reduction, which will be chaired by Rep. Morrie Lanning (R-Moorhead). The goal is to empower local decision-making and flexibility in local budgets.

The working groups will construct three separate bills that must be introduced by Feb. 26.

“My vision is that we will research each area and then develop a bill,” Marquart said. In March, the division will reserve entire hearings for each of the bills. Working group chairs will put out a notice for their meetings. Division members are not assigned to groups, but are encouraged to attend any or all of the working group meetings.

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