S.D. Farmers Union: eliminate the tax freeze | TSLN.com

S.D. Farmers Union: eliminate the tax freeze

The members of South Dakota Farmers Union added a major amendment to their policy this past weekend during the organization's 99th State Convention held in Aberdeen Nov. 20-21, 2014.

The amendment states that SDFU should urge the repeal of the tax freeze on schools, counties and townships. The tax freeze referenced in the amendment was put in place in the 1990s under former South Dakota Governor Janklow.

Currently, the freeze hinders the ability of local governments to gather funds. SDFU President Doug Sombke states, "Though it may have been a good position to take in the 1990s, times change – as do the needs of this state."

Specifically, Sombke was referring to concerns over the condition of state and local infrastructure. State legislators are in the process of looking for additional funding sources that would help alleviate the woes of degrading road and bridge conditions.

In regard to the tax freezes, Sombke added, "It makes sense to give more control to local governments where taxpayers can see the who, what, where and why involved with their tax dollars," he said.

The amendment gives individual counties and townships more control, and by extension, more responsibility to maintain and improve infrastructure.

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"If the tax freezes were lifted, taxpayers would have a greater ability to bring about change in their local government," said Matt Sibley, South Dakota Farmers Union Legislative Specialist.

The amendment also addresses the issue of many local governments opting out of the tax freeze, which adds expense to local government in the form of special elections if not held during other election cycles. "Whether local governments opt out or not, the counties and townships need money," he said. "Lifting the tax freeze just eliminates the middle man."

–S.D. Farmers Union