Rise in Property Value Gauged

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – Preliminary calculations based on figures that vary widely by county indicate the value of residential property in Montana has risen by 40 percent to 50 percent since 2002.

Final reappraisal numbers will be released next month and may differ from the preliminary numbers, said Dan Bucks, the state revenue director.

“Overall, there will be no property tax increases on average due to the changes in property values since Jan. 1, 2002,” Bucks told the interim legislative Revenue and Taxation Committee on Tuesday. “The Legislature will collect the same amount of property taxes on existing homes, commercial property, farms and ranches in the next biennium as in the last biennium.”

The Schweitzer administration has said that in 2009 it will propose tax-restricting legislation related to property reappraisal.

Measures to offset property tax increases would be aimed at average increases. In past reappraisal cycles, some homeowners whose property values grew by more than the averages still faced higher taxes, even with state efforts at mitigation.

Preliminary figures from the Department of Revenue indicate residential and commercial property increased, on average, by about 6 percent a year statewide from Jan. 1, 2002, to the reappraisal cutoff date of last June 30.

Agricultural land rose by an average of 5.3 percent a year statewide, or 43.6 percent for the period. Forested land rose by an average of 5.8 percent, or 48.3 percent statewide.

About every six years, the Revenue Department must examine the value of all property on the Montana tax rolls. New values are used in calculating future property taxes.

Bucks said the average increases in value of residential property were highest in western and southwestern Montana resort counties, and in eastern counties where energy developments has been occurring. Changes in property values were lowest in counties where agriculture predominates.