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In the discretion of the commission, officers who serve summons or subpoenas, and witness attending, shall receive like compensation, as officer and witness in the district court.
11. Method of Re-Assessment. Payment of Assessor. For the purpose of making a re-assessment of property as provided in subsection 18 of section 9 of this act, the tax commission is hereby authorized to appoint such assessor or assessors as may be needed who shall make a re-assessment, of the property, or of the assessment district or districts specified by the commission, in accordance with the provisions of law now governing local assessors, and such assessor shall be allowed for his services the sum of five dollars ($5.00) per day and his necessary expenses to be itemized and sworn to by the party incurring the expenses and approved by the commission, and the tax commission is hereby authorized and empowered to certify the expenses of such re-assessment to the auditor of the county in which such re-assessment has been made, who shall promptly issue his warrant on the county treasurer payable out of the general fund of the county, said fund to be reimbursed out of the moneys due the taxing district in which the re-assessment was made at the next settlement of collection of taxes.
12. Repeal.--All acts or parts of acts inconsistent with the provisions of this act are hereby repealed.
13. Constitutionality.-In case any of the provisions of this act should be declared unconstitutional that shall not affect the validity of any of the other provisions of this act.
14. Appropriation. There is hereby annually appropriated out of any moneys in the state treasury; not otherwise appropriated the sum of $3,000.00, or as much thereof as may be needed for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this act.
15. Emergency.-Whereas, the finances of the state will not warrant the full expense to be incurred hereunder, it is hereby provided that this act shall take effect July 1st, 1912, and that the appointments shall not be made until after July 1, 1912, the same to be thereafter confirmed by the senate in the legislative session of 1913.
Approved March 17, 1911.
may result +
The twelfth session of the legislative assembly of the State of North Dakota provided for the creation of a non-partisan tax commission. Thus North Dakota was added to the large group of states which are seeking to improve the operation of their revenue and taxation systems. The fact that our revenue system has broken down at many points and that it has failed to comply with the most fundamental principles in taxation is one that has been recognized by every observer of its operation. That we have reached the point where improvement has become imperative cannot be denied. The constructive reforms that have been accomplished through the instrumentality of tax commissions in other states justify the hope that similar improvements
through the same channel in North Dakota. By reason of an emergency clause which was expressed in the last section of the chapter creating a non-partisan tax commission for North Dakota, the act did not become effective until July 1st, 1912. . Immediately thereafter Governor John Burke appointed to the commission its present members. The members of the commission qualified and began the discharge of their duties.
Soon after the organization it was thought advisable for the members of the commission to investigate the office organization and methods of two of the tax commissions of sister states. Consequently Commissioners Birdzell and Wallace visited the commissions of Wisconsin and Winnesota respectively, and obtained from these commissions many helpful and practical suggestions.
A number of investigations have been and are being carried on. Some of these are in the initial stages, and some more important investigations are contemplated. The members of the commission appreciate fully the importance of having ali of its investigations carefully conducted in order that its conclusions may be worthy the serious attention of the legislature. 'At the time this report is sent to press the commission has been in office but four months and it is therefore impossible for the report to be as concrete, definite and comprehensive as it should be in order to be of the utmost service. It has been thought better to omit the consideration of matters that could not be fully considered in so short a time than to present at this time results which would at best lack the full confidence of the commission, not to say of those whose confidence is solicited.
While the law creating the commission requires the transmission of a report thirty days before the meeting of the legislature, it contemplates undoubtedly that the report should embrace
activities covering a biennial period. This is, of course, impossible in the case of this report; consequently this report is tendered in the nature of a preliminary report and it contains discussions only of those matters which are of more immediate importance in view of the prospective action of the commission, and we ask for it only the consideration to which it is entitled from such view point.
The commission has had occasion to solicit frequently the co-operation of officials of the various counties and cities, particularly the county auditors and in every instance its requests have met with a generous response. Without the hearty co-operation of the men in these various offices it would be difficult for the commission to carry on its work. We are, therefore, grateful to them for the help they have so kindly given us.
ORGANIZATION AND WORK.
Immediately after the appointments of the commissioners became effective they repaired to the state capitol and proceeded to organize as directed by law. Since the organization the commissioners have been in session continuously and have been performing the various duties which devolve upon them. The results of their work will partially appear in this report, but in this chapter brief mention is made of some of the matters touching the organization and work of the commission that are of passing interest only.
Upon its organization the first need of the commission was found to be a library, which would contain, not merely the leading authoritative treaties on economic subjects, but which would contain as well the reports of actual conditions and investigations into the practical working of systems of taxation in other states. The commission undertook to meet this need partly by entering into correspondence with tax commissions and state officials of other states requesting publications to be sent to the commission, under a reciprocal arrangement. The responses were generous and the result is a collection of reports and statistical matter bearing upon the operation of the revenue systems in vogue in the various states which will be of permanent value for reference purposes. In addition to this some works have been purchased in the nature of general treatises on economics, taxation and public finance, and the commission has subscribed for a number of the leading periodicals including The American Political Science Review, The Bulletins of the American Economic Association, The Economic Journal and Moody's Magazine. These Journals contain many valuable discussions of topics of special interest to students of taxation and they will be of inestimable permanent value in the library of the commission.
The commission has been greatly aided by having at hand a rather extensive collection of material on subjects of interest and importance, which matter had already been collected and catalogued under the direct supervision of Mr. I. A. Acker, the legis
lative reference librarian. It is the plan of the commission to adopt the cataloguing system which is used in the legislative reference library. This will add greatly to the value of the library for purposes of reference. The commission does not expect to have at its disposal funds sufficient to warrant the employment of a librarian, but in view of the facilities already afforded by the legislative reference library, the lack of funds for expenditure in this direction will not hinder efficient work.
The law creating the commission authorized the commission to appoint a secretary at the maximum salary of $2,400 annually. A number of applications for this important position have been made, but the commission has not as yet made a selection. There are two main reasons why it was deemed unwise to fill this position. 1st. At the time the commission entered upon the performance of its duties the assessment for 1912 was practically completed and the time had come for equalization to be made in the various counties of the state, and the time was altogether too short within which the commission could prepare to be of very great service to the state board of equalization. Consequently the administrative work of the commission was at a low ebb and the members did not feel the immediate need of a secretary. 2nd. The appropriation made for carrying on the work of the commission ($3,000 annually, being but $1,500 for the six months period from July 1st, 1912 to Jan. 1st, 1913.) was so small that had the salary of the secretary been taken therefrom the commission would have been without funds to carry on more important work. The members of the commission feel that the work has now arrived at a stage where more important administrative duties are imminent.and it will require the services of a secretary in the immediate future. Applications have come from persons deemed well qualified for the position and no difficulty in making a selection is anticipated.
One or more members of the commission were present at all of the sessions of the State Board of Equalization, and through attendance upon its sessions the commission has become familiar with the methods adopted by the board in accomplishing its work. The law enjoins upon the commission the duty "to consult and confer with the state board of equalization and to aid them in the discharge of their duties." The commission is impressed with the importance of collecting facts. It would seem