Park County Assessor Calls for Limits on Property Tax

Park County Assessor Calls for Limits on Property Tax

Written by on May 4, 2022

Park County is experiencing an unprecedented increase in home values, and the factors contributing to rising home values are multifaceted and complex.

One obvious reason for the increased demand for homes: Americans fled large cities during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a result of the pandemic, certain regions of the country saw a large influx of new residents. For example, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Montana and Wyoming recorded thousands of people moving in as recently as July 2021.

Park County hasn’t been immune to the factors, both locally and globally, impacting property values. As County Assessor Pat Meyer explains, “We cannot control the skyrocketing value of our property, but I believe we may be able to limit the tax increases with sensible legislation.”

In the coming days, Park County property owners will receive their assessments for 2022. Those calculations set the property’s taxable value, and many owners will see increases of 25-45%.

Some owners will find the hikes shocking, Meyer says  – his own home rose about 35% from last year. But his hands are tied as a county assessor. State law requires assessors to set fair market values using a uniform system that factors in comparable sales data, replacement costs, and depreciation.

“We do not set the market – we follow it,” Meyer notes.

County officials are currently weighing a variety of solutions. Of course, tax reform is always an option. One concern is that folks on fixed incomes will suddenly have a prohibitively large expense because of the rising tax.

Meyer believes one viable solution is to limit the tax increases with reasonable legislation. Meyer went on to say, “I’m continuing my efforts to do just that.”

The real estate boom has caused an issue of local urgency. According to a press release from the Assessor’s office, in 2021, buyers spent nearly “$294 million on Park County properties – spending $100 million or roughly 50% more than they did in 2019.”

In a two-year period, the average price of residential and commercial properties soared from “$262,000” to more than “$376,000.”

Property values jumped in 2020 as people moved in from out-of-state, “but not like this,” Meyers says. Meyers has worked in the assessor’s office for four decades, and he says he’s “never seen anything like what’s happening” in the past few years.

There are positives to rising property values. First, it’s good news for homeowners who are gaining more equity from their property.

It will also mean additional revenue for Wyoming’s K-12 schools and other local governments. However, a sharp increase in oil and gas values will provide a bigger boost than rising land values.

On the appeal of Park County, Meyers soberly says, “Park County is a great place to live, and the rest of the country seems to have discovered Wyoming.”

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