Monday, September 20, 2021

City looks to reduce mill levy significantly, but taxes might still go up

Editor | August 25, 2021 7:20 AM

The City of Columbia Falls 2021-22 budget could mean a slight tax decrease for some folks and slight increase for others, depending on how their properties were assessed in the latest revaluation.

City manager Susan Nicosia told city council last week that under the proposed budget, the mill levy would drop from last year’s 221 mills to 191 mills this year.

That’s due to a rebate as the city no longer pays the county about $135,000 a year for 911 service as residents passed a new county levy during the last election.

The rebate provided to taxpayers amounted to 43% of the $135,000, as full amount wasn’t all paid directly by taxpayers. The city has other sources of revenue in its budget, Nicosia noted, which funded the rest.

Details aside, the overall mill levy reduction depends on one’s assessment.

As one example, Nicosia used a home that saw an increase in its assessment of 18%.

The overall mills dropped 13.7%, but they’ll still see a tax increase of $11.39 because of the increase in their assessment.

She cited another property that had a 15% increase in assessment. That property, with the mill reduction, saw a $3.75 tax bill reduction.

Another home that had a 28% increase (it added on a garage) in its valuation, saw a $59.84 increase.

The “average” $250,000 home, with no change in valuation, would see a net decrease of $102.50 in their property tax bill. Though virtually no homes in Columbia Falls saw a decrease in valuation.

City council will have to set the mill levy at its Sept. 7 meeting. Next year, city property owners could see a property tax rebate, as the city’s 3% resort tax will go into effect starting in October.

Under the law that residents approved, part of revenue generated by the tax is dedicated to lowering property taxes.

In other city news:

•The city is getting quotes to demolish the old tennis courts at Columbus Park. It’s looking to build pickleball courts at the same location. The city is building new tennis courts at Hoerner Park across the street from the high school.

• The city was recently ranked 22nd out of 325 applicants for federal American Rescue Plan Act funds for upgrades for its sewage treatment plant. The city’s water treatment plant scored much lower and it’s not expecting any funds. The state is overseeing the federal funds and scoring it. The funds were part of a large coronavirus relief package signed into law this spring.

The city is hoping to get about $3.2 million in grant funding, if it receives the complete award.