- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 26, 2017

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - Gov. Doug Burgum has signed a bill for the state to take over social services costs for the 53 counties under a two-year program that eliminates counties’ ability to tax for those services.

In exchange, the legislation ends a so-called tax relief fund that was used to give homeowners a 12 percent buydown of property tax rates.

The fund is expected to have $300 million when the current two-year budget period ends on June 30. The bill would use about $140 million from the fund to help balance the state budget, while the remainder would be applied to social services program costs.

The Republican governor called the legislation “sustainable property tax relief.”

Burgum says it’s more cost-effective than the buydown program, which he says “lacked incentive to control local spending.”

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