County Officials Question Mill Levy Process
Roosevelt County and Richland County are each supportive of a request by the Montana Association of Counties to receive an interpretation of laws related to property tax levies.
The State of Montana levies 95 mills annually and 40 of the mills go toward the equalization of school funding.
Roosevelt County Commissioner Gordon Oelkers explains that counties can increase the value of mills only by half the inflation rate. States are able to increase the full amount of inflation.
The value of a mill in Roosevelt County went from $31,746 last year to $32,660 this year.
The State’s mills are going to be worth more of the appraisal values increased.
Oelkers said if the State is concerned about property taxes, they should follow the same standard as counties. He noted, however, that the tax amount would then need to be found somewhere else. The argument by MACo is that unless the State is directed to follow the law and adjust their levying authority downwards, it could lead to over levying property taxes under the current reappraisal cycle.
The request from Beaverhead County to Attorney General Austin Knudsen to provide an opinion noted that because of the high reappraisal value of some residential homes across the state, it has become “glaringly apparent that the state school 95 mills have been incorrectly levied for many years.”
When values increase rapidly, mills subject to that provision of law are intended to be limited to the amount actually assessed in the previous year plus half the rate of inflation.
Every year, the Department of Revenue sends a formal notice to each county instructing them to levy 95 mills rather than perform the calculation required by law and adjust the mill levy authority per statute. Never since the creation of those mills has the State levied less than 95 mills.