Lake, Flathead Counties’ Property Values Rise Fastest

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – A statewide property reappraisal shows the value of residential property has increased by an average of 55 percent statewide over the past 6.5 years, the Revenue Department said.

Revenue Director Dan Bucks said the reappraisal numbers need one more adjustment before being finalized.

The highest increase in property values was 103 percent in Lake County, with Flathead, Dawson and Richland counties also reporting increases of at least 77 percent. The lowest increase — 11 percent — was found in Liberty County.

Increased property values don’t necessarily mean homeowners’ property taxes will jump by the same amount.

Gov. Brian Schweitzer has committed that property taxes won’t rise, on a statewide average, because of the reappraisal, Bucks said. However, some will see their taxes increase.

Bucks says the administration’s goal is to effectively freeze the taxable values of property for six years, even if market values or appraised values increase.

The 2009 Legislature will be faced with determining how to soften the impact of the reappraisal. Past legislatures have phased in the new property values over several years, phased in new tax rates and exempted a certain portion of the property value from taxes.

Homeowners will learn their new appraised value next year and can appeal the value if they disagree.