Flathead County

Preliminary County Budget Keeps Taxes Flat

Flathead County Commission unanimously approves $129.7 million in expenditures for next fiscal year

By Micah Drew
Flathead County Courthouse on Main Street in Kalispell pictured May 4, 2022. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

The Flathead County Commission on June 27 unanimously passed a $129.7 million preliminary expenditure budget for the 2025 fiscal year, marking a 12% increase over the previous year’s budget of $115.8 million. While that might appear to be a steep year-over-year increase, the preliminary figure is similar to what the commissioners initially approved last June and includes more than $7 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds that will be allocated to the regional septage facility.  

“We asked the departments to be very conservative with their budgets and hold the line where they could,” county finance director Amy Dexter said.

The new budget takes effect on July 1 and will face final approval in August once the Montana Department of Revenue releases the county’s taxable valuation numbers.

Dexter said the county expects an annual revenue of at least $117 million, with 5.47 mills left untaxed for the public.

The preliminary expenditures include pay raises for county officials and staff members. On May 21, the commissioners approved a 3.2% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for nine elected officials, as well as all county employees. Other increases are due to emergency service and transportation levies and a roughly $1 million increase in expenditures for the sheriff’s office.

Once the county’s taxable valuation numbers are released in August, the county commissioners will hear public comment prior to formally adopting the budget in its final form. The proposed mill levy for FY2025 is 104.88, a slight increase from last year’s 103.34 mills.

“To the public, your property taxes may go up but it’s not from actions [the commissioners] took,” said county administrator Pete Melnick, adding that any tax increases seen by county residents would be due to increased property valuations or decisions by the state or local municipality to raise taxes. “From our perspective, the county’s holding the line and at this point under-milling, per [the commissioners’] guidelines.”

The county commissioners also unanimously passed a capital improvement plan (CIP) for FY2025-2029, with the upcoming fiscal year’s CIP budget increasing from last year to $12.9 million.

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