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Montana Property Tax Task Force Working On Solutions For State

The governor’s property tax task force, which includes Roosevelt County Commissioner Gordon Oelkers, has been split into three subcommittees: education, local government and tax fairness and equity. Oelkers serves on the tax fairness and equity subcommittee.

Gov. Greg Gianforte announced in December that he will launch a task force to address rising property taxes and how to restrain their growth to help Montana homeowners. “Property taxes are too high. Over this year and next, our $1,350 property tax rebate will provide the average Montana homeowner with relief that more than offsets their property tax increase,” Gianforte said in a press release. “While these property tax rebates will help in the short term, we need long-term reforms to keep property taxes as low as possible, and we must be deliberate and thoughtful as we develop, enact, and implement those solutions. Our property tax task force will deliver an actionable plan to rein in property taxes for legislators to consider for their next regular session in January 2025.”

The task force is continuing to gather information, study options and take public input. The task force is providing an opportunity to participate either in person or through Zoom. Information is available at https;//budget. Areas discussed so far in the process have included: Local Government Committee Spending Caps: Does the current statute work properly? Is the inflation factor appropriate? Should fees be regulated?

Voted Levies: Should minimum turnout be required? How transparency can be improved. Should election days be changed to primary or general elections?

Tax Increment Districts: Should their life be shortened? Is their governance system proper? Should there be more transparency in their operation? Should criteria for the formation be changed?

Are property tax assistance programs adequate? Should other revenue sources be allowed for local governments?

Tax Fairness Committee

Some of the topics covered included: Were the property tax spikes this cycle the result of Covid and might they be a one-time event? What tools might be used to reduce the effects on residential and commercial property values? How might homestead and cornstead exemptions be tailored? Could temporary consumption taxes be used to reduce property taxes? How might property owned by non-profits share in cost of service? Should local option sales taxes be considered for non-resort communities?

Education Committee

* Montana has a large number of school districts. Is there a way to make the systems more efficient?

* Are state property tax collections properly structured to support the state’s funding of the K-12 system?

* How to increase participation in school levy and bond elections? Move election dates? Require minimum turnouts and percentages of approval for passage.

* Should the equalization levies be fixed at 95 mills?

* Does the Guaranteed Tax Base formula need to be adjusted?

* Should schools go to twoyear budgets to align with elections and the state budgeting process?

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