By Kent Hanawalt
The property owners here in Park County were recently jolted by their Property Classification and Appraisal Notice from the Montana Department of Revenue. Especially concerning was the little box on page 2 entitled “Estimated 2023 General Taxes”.
According to the Montana constitution, every property must be reassessed every other year by the Montana Department of Revenue. That assessment process is comprehensive, and is based on different criteria for different types of properties: Residential is appraised on Market Value; Commercial based on Income; and Agricultural is assessed at productive value.
The market value of residential is the most complex. They are determined by a multiple regression analysis beginning with neighborhood, property size, square footage of the house, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and such amenities as a fireplace, finished basement, garage – and on, and on. You can look at your own Property Record Card on property.mt.gov to check for any disparities.
Another formula is applied to the Current Assessed Value, to arrive at the Current Taxable Value in each particular taxing jurisdiction – in our case, Park County.
The county treasurer takes it from there, applying such things as ‘Permissive Levies’, ‘Voted Levies’, and ‘Required/Formulaic Levies’.
Among the ‘Permissive’ levies in Park County are those for roads, library, airport, search and rescue. Among the voted levies are those for Ambulance and school bonds. The largest of the ‘Required/Formulaic’ is school the School Equalization Tax.
This “Equalization” tax is distributed by the state to assure that the poorest counties in the state receive school funding that is comparable to that of the richest counties.
As costs rise in each county, it is only the ‘Permissive Levies’ that may be reduced in order to cap individual taxes at the inflation rate as required by MCA 15-10-420.
All of these levies are measured in mills. “Mill” is derived from the Latin word millesimum, meaning thousandth. Each of the different levies receives $1 on your tax bill for every $1000 in taxable value.
A “thousandth” is a pretty minute measure, and as applied to a “taxable value” that is already only a fraction of the “Assessed Value” it seems pretty harmless. But on one city property there are 30 different levies – to total 1,850 of Mills per thousand dollars. And our taxable obligations continue to grow.