A heavy-handed, top-down approach -- or a fair way to address property tax exemptions for business? Senate Bill 2314 -- known as the "Walmart Bill" -- is said to have been introduced in response to Mandan's two-year property tax exemption to the store.
The Bill requires State approval before tax exemptions can be granted. Critics say SB 2314 strips control over area development from cities and counties -- and gives it to State-level bureaucrats.
"You're taking away the power from somebody that is supposed to know the intricacies and intimacy of the City, and you're saying that you can do better than us. That's not how our government was set up. We live in those communities and we're elected by the people," says Mike Braun, Mandan City Commissioner.
Mandan officials assert the one-time $400,000 total property tax exemption will be more than offset by Walmart's $400,000 annual sales tax revenue. They say local control is essential to increasing the sales tax base, which will ultimately, reduce property taxes.
"More than 60% of our tax base goes to Bismarck, because we have to go to Bismarck to do our shopping. So we now have this tool to ask businesses to come into Mandan, so that we can increase our tax base, which eventually lowers our property tax," says Commissioner Braun.
Mandan officials say had this law been in place, they would not have been able to attract the Comfort Inn, since service sector businesses, including hotels, are ineligible for any exemptions under the proposed law.
SB 2314 is expected to go to a vote anytime. If it passes, it will impact cities and counties across North Dakota. KX reached out to North Dakota Senator Tony Grindberg, a sponsor of Senate Bill 2314, but did not receive comment before deadline.
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