Have you heard your Library Development Specialist say that you’re a “Home Rule City” and didn’t have any idea what that meant? You’re not alone. 88% of public libraries in North Dakota reside in a city or county with a home rule charter. Let’s break it down—
Typically, city and county governments need to follow the basics of state law, but if the municipality has passed a home rule charter, they are given freedom to implement ordinances in regards to finances, property taxes, and other taxes as laid out in NDCC 40-05.1-06. This means that, if specified in the home rule charter, a municipality may levy more than 4 mills for library service. (The 4 mill levy limit is prescribed in NDCC 57-15-06.7 and 57-15-10. There are additional constraints if you are funded by both a city and a county or a multi-city agreement.)
Regardless of home rule status, if you want to increase your mill levy for the library, you need to follow the process laid out in NDCC 40-38-02 #5. This includes either a motion of the governing body or a petition of residents to move the issue to a vote. In order to pass, 60% of qualified electors need to vote in favor of increasing the levy for public library service.
For a quick rundown of what a mill is and how it is calculated, check out the ND Association of Counties’ article Understanding Property Taxes.
As always, please remember that all cities and counties handle their money a little bit differently, and ND State Library staff are not lawyers. Any questions regarding interpretation of Century Code or mills should be addressed to your municipality’s attorney or auditor respectively.