MISSOULA – Missoula County property owners can expect a 4.8% increase in their property tax bill after commissioners approved their fiscal year 2019 budget on Thursday.
The tax hike means that folks who own a home valued at $200,000 will pay about $30 more in taxes.
Some voter-approved bonds this year added to the counties’ rising costs, including the 2.9% increase to pay for the Missoula Public Library bond. However, the increase as offset by a couple of things alleviating pressure on the budget.
The Missoula County Sheriff’s Office opted out of Social Security this year which means the county no longer has to pay for the required match. Additionally, the City of Missoula released almost $500,000 in revenue from several urban renewal districts.
Commissioners agreed that alternatives need to be found to increase revenues without increasing property taxes. Concerns about the increase, especially for people on a fixed income, were expressed during the meeting.
“When he talked about the state making cuts, they did, on the backs of all of you. So, while the state has other things they can do to raise taxes to finance services, the only tool that cities and counties have currently is property tax,” Missoula County Commissioner Jean Curtiss said.
Counties are also now picking up the tab for services that were cut by the state during the 2017 legislative session. For example, at the Missoula County jail, mental health care services and paying for out-of-state witnesses for county prosecutors have all become more burdensome following the state budget cuts.