October 6, 2006, 5:00 PM
Will Amendment D be a homeowner's hedge against rising costs, or will it have a chilling effect on future home sales in South Dakota? The debate is heating up over a proposed change to the state's constitution that could impact property taxes.
Amendment D would roll back assessments on homes, businesses and farms to levels set in 2003. And future assessments cannot go any higher than three-percent a year. If you buy a property after January first, the price you paid would be the new assessment. But opponents say Amendment D will create more problems than it's supposed to fix.
Those who want you to vote yes on Amendment D say putting the 3-percent cap in the state constitution will prevent property assessments from going through the roof. Amendment D supporter Bill Napoli said, "I found a business right here in Sioux Falls that went from $500,000 to $700,000 in one year. I found a home down here that went from $150,000 to $240,000 in one year. Areas of growth, my assessment alone doubled this year."
Supporters say Amendment D removes the subjective nature of assessments that are based on sales of surrounding properties. Instead, the purchase price of a home that's sold would be its new assessed value. Napoli said, "Bottom line, is if you wan to buy it for big money and if you want to pay those kind of taxes fine, don't make everybody pay those taxes, too."
But opponents say Amendment D unfairly shifts the tax burden to new homeowners. Amendment D opponent Joel Dykstra said, "We need more people in South Dakota, we need more kids in our schools and those are exactly the people who are going to end up paying a higher proportion of our property taxes if Amendment D were to pass."
Dykstra says the taxpayers hurt most by Amendment D are the people South Dakota tries to attract to the state: young families buying their first home.
Critics also say Amendment D's impact on property taxes could result in a 15-million dollar shortfall for education funding. But backers say Amendment D is revenue neutral and will have no effect on school funding or opt-outs.
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