Missoula County Commissioners Explain Property Taxes on Talk Back
In the monthly County Talk segment on KGVO’s Talk Back show, Missoula County Commissioners Juanita Vero, Josh Slotnick, and Dave Strohmaier dedicated the entire hour to explaining property taxes to listeners and viewers of the KGVO website.
Slotnick began the program with a primer on mils and how they are determined.
“A mil technically is $1 value, and that's equivalent to 1/1000 of all the property value in the entire county,” began Slotnick. “So a mill value changes every other year because the state is on a two-year reappraisal cycle. So what happens is every other year the state appraises all of the real estate in Missoula County, and then divides that number by 1000, and that equals a mil.”
Slotnick then explained how the mils are levied into property taxes.
“The state also says, ‘you guys in Missoula County, you can levy this many mils’, and that's it, they put a cap, so we can't decide just to tax the heck out of everybody if we were being really vindictive,” he said. “The state actually says this is how many mils you can tax, and then they say, this is how much a mil value is. Now that mil value changes every other year because property values change, but those are the two pieces of taxation in terms of dollars.”
Slotnick and Strohmaier explained that in the 60s and 70s, Missoula’s economy featured several large lumber and paper mills that brought in a great deal of property tax dollars, but not so today.
“Back then, the brunt of the property tax burden was held by a few industrial landowners and the burden on residents wasn't very much,” he said. “We didn't have to provide services for people who didn't pay because we didn't get much tourism, but things radically changed over that handful of decades. Lo and behold, there aren't that many major industrial property taxpayers now and the burden falls entirely on residents. In addition, house values are super high and we get tons of tourists. So the recipe has changed to make this much more punitive really on residents than it ought to be.”
Strohmaier and Slotnick were incensed that the Montana Legislature overturned the two cent per gallon gas tax voted in by Missoula County residents that would have helped provide highway and bridge maintenance.
“This was not something that was just adopted by three rogue county commissioners,” he said. “This was put to the vote of the people, and in complete disregard for that, in the democratic process, with all due respect to our legislators, they overturned it. Our voters voted for something and a handful of people who are not accountable to us took it away.”
Click here to listen to the entire one-hour County Talk broadcast.
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