Property Tax Elimination Measure

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Former State Senate Majority Leader Rich Warder explains the real numbers for state finances.

Rich Wardner on the Property Tax Proposal

Senator Wardner's PowerPoint


Wardner: Tax Measure Would Create Chaos
Former Senator Opposes Property Tax Elimination

North Dakota's former longtime Senate Majority Leader opposes a ballot measure being circulated that would eliminate property taxes in the state.

Rich Wardner, who served in the state legislature for 30 years, said while eliminating property taxes may sound good, "it's gonna actually create a lot of chaos."  The measure does not specify a source of funding to replace the $1.1 billion in annual property taxes that support local government and schools, only that it would be the responsibility of the state to come up with the money.

Wardner, who was interviewed by Ron Ness this week on the radio program Dakota Talk, said the most obvious source would be oil tax revenue, which currently accounts for more than half the state's tax revenue. Wardner said that could mean a double whammy for oil-producing counties that would not only lose their property tax revenue, but he said the legislature may also take away the local share of oil tax revenue, and impose other tax increases on top of it.

Click here to listen to Wardner's comments.

Wardner said proponents of the measure like to point out that North Dakota spends much more than neighboring South Dakota. He said that's true, but supporters don't explain that a big chunk of North Dakota state spending supports schools and local government.

Click here to listen to Wardner's comments.

Wardner said the measure's proponents have also misrepresented the tax burden on the average state resident. He said they've used statistics that show the state has the highest per capita taxes in the country, but conveniently ignore the fact it includes the billions the state collects in oil taxes.

Click here to listen to Wardner's comments.

Wardner said the state's founders envisioned a taxation system that was uniform, but he said taking away property taxes as a source of revenue will lead to a wide range of replacement taxes and fees that will not treat everyone the same.

Click here to listen to Wardner's comments.

Wardner said if the measure passes, it could also lead to the reduction of essential services, including police, fire, and ambulance. He has launched a personal campaign against the measure. Click here to watch a video of Wardner working a booth for the ND Township Officers Association.

The Western Dakota Energy Association is officially on record in opposition to the measure, as well as the ND Association of Counties, the ND League of Cities and several other organizations. Click here to read an article about North Dakota United's opposition to the measure.

The sponsoring committee circulating the measure is chaired by former Bismarck Rep. Rick Becker, who claims it "promises to bring about significant economic benefits that will positively impact individuals and families across North Dakota." The committee will need to gather 31,164 valid signatures to put the constitutional measure on the November ballot. Click here to read the property tax measure, along with a list of the members of its sponsoring committee.

Click here and scroll to the 16:35 mark to listen to the full Dakota Talk interview with Wardner.



Each March, the Citizen-Residents of a Township assemble for the Township Annual Meeting. The Board of Township Supervisors proposes a budget to the meeting; every resident is entitled to suggest amending the budget as a motion for consideration, and all the residents vote on the budget's final adoption. That is local control; the people who live there and know the needs set the budget and the resulting tax levy upon themselves. The response to local needs is not decided in Bismarck or even at the county seat.



North Dakota Township Officers Association
Resolution 2023-1
Opposition to the Property Tax Elimination Ballot Measure

Whereas, an initiated constitutional petition has been approved to be circulated to put a question on the 2024 election ballot to eliminate the ability for political subdivisions to levy property tax; and

Whereas, the petition provides for political subdivisions to receive property tax replacement payments from state revenues but does not specify which state revenues would be used to fill local needs; and

Whereas, property taxes levied by townships at their respective annual meetings in 2022 totaled $32.2 million; and

Whereas, currently, the electors of a township voting at their annual meetings have the power to make decisions about the amount of property tax to levy upon themselves based on the township's locally evaluated needs; and

Whereas, without the ability to tax themselves according to local needs, the more than 1300 individual townships currently levying property taxes would potentially need to present their budget to the legislature for approval, or worse, be subject to a “one size fits all” appropriation, every two years;

Now, therefore, be it resolved that the North Dakota Township Officers Association opposes the property tax elimination ballot measure, and

Be it further resolved that the NDTOA will communicate this membership resolution to appropriate stakeholders, officials, and the NDTOA Membership.

Adopted by the NDTOA Membership, December 4, 2023


A Very Substantial Part of Local Costs are Funded by the ND State Legislature - Click for Details