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School bond and tax elections in North Dakota

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School bond and tax elections in North Dakota are held for three different types of levies:
  • General Fund Levy-For basic operating expenses and teacher salaries.
  • Distance Learning-For expenses related to technology and distance learning.
  • Building Improvements/Capital Funding Levy-For building new facilities or improving existing ones.

Laws affecting levies

Capital Improvement/Building Fund levy

Under North Dakota law, there is a separate levy fund for capital improvements and building new facilities which is different from other states. Under the law, the levy cannot exceed twenty mills of assessed taxable property in addition to other limits prescribed under North Dakota Law.

Distance Learning levy

North Dakota is unique how it structures levy laws because North Dakota has a separate levy fund for distance learning and other related technologies. However, before a distance learning levy can be created, voter approval is required to approve a levy for dedicated purposes of technology and distance learning not to exceed five mills on the dollar of taxable valuation of property within the district.

General Fund levy

Tbe general fund levy covers all school districts except the City of Fargo. Under the law, a school district may not exceed the amount in dollars which the school district levied from general fund for the prior school year plus twelve percent up to the limit one hundred eighty-five mills on the dollar of the taxable valuation of the district. The general fund levy covers basic operating expenses such as teacher salaries and benefits, administrative costs, the costs of instruction, and other usual and customary expenses.

Required notice of levy election

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To have a levy election, a school board can approve a resolution at any time prior to September 1 of any year, by a two-thirds vote of the members of the respective school board. The resolution must state that the amount of taxes raised at the maximum rate authorized by law will be insufficient to provide an adequate amount for the necessary requirements of the school district. Therefore, the resolution has to state that it is necessary to levy taxes in excess of the stated limitations for the purpose of meeting current expenses of the school district.[1][2]

After the school board approves a resolution, they are mandated by North Dakota Law to issue to following in a public notice:

1. The total amount of budgeted income and expenditures of such school district for the current fiscal year.
2. The estimated expenditures for the year for which the taxes are to be levied.
3. The amount of tax dollars under the legal mill levy limit that such school district is permitted to levy by virtue of section 57-15 under the North Dakota Century Code.
4. The amount of tax dollars currently being levied by the school district.
5. The amount in dollars of the tax levy that the school district seeks authority to make.
6. The increase that will result in the amount of tax dollars levied if authorization for the levy requested is given.[3]

Conduct of the bond election, limitations, rules

Election dates

The general election date is the first Tuesday in November. Special elections can be held any time before October 1 of the year the tax is levied.

Special Elections

Special elections must be held no later than October 1 of the year in which the tax is to be levied and the elections must be conducted under the North Dakota Election Code. If the special election is on a previously defeated ballot measure, a minimum 90 days must elapse before any district can pass a resolution for a special election. North Dakota also limits school districts to two special elections on a defeated ballot measure in a twelve month period.

Majority requirements

For any levy that involves capital improvements or a building fund, a super majority vote of sixty percent is needed to approve the ballot measure. A general fund levy requires a super majority vote of fifty five percent. A distance learning levy only requires a simple majority of fifty percent plus one.

Wording of ballot measures

North Dakota laws allow two forms of ballot measures:

Levy Excess Authorization-To exceed General Fund, Building Fund, and Distance Learning levies

Shall ____________________ school district levy taxes for the year (or years) ____________________, which shall exceed the legal limit by ____________________ percent, so that the taxes levied for this current year instead of being _________________ dollars, which is the limit authorized by law, shall be ____________________ dollars:


Yes ____
No ____


Levy Extension-To authorize more money used to extend the life of a levy.


Shall ____________________ school district, which is permitted to levy taxes of ____________________ dollars without excess levy authorization, and which is presently levying taxes of ____________________ dollars through an approved excess levy of ____________________ percent authorized in the year ___, be permitted to levy taxes for the current year, ___, of ____________________ dollars, exceeding the normal levy by ____________________ percent:


Yes ____
No ____
[4]

See also

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References

  1. "North Dakota Century Code" Chapter 57-Taxation(Statute Reference ND Century Code 57.16.03)
  2. "North Dakota Century Code" Chapter 16-Elections(Statute Reference ND Century Code 16.1-01-11)
  3. "North Dakota Century Code" Chapter 57-Taxation(Statute Reference ND Century Code 57.16.03 and )
  4. "North Dakota Century Code" Chapter 57-Taxation(Statute Reference ND Century Code 57.16.06)