Monday, October 02, 2023

Mills down in county budget, but your bill might go up

Editor | September 6, 2023 2:00 AM

Flathead County Administrator Pete Melnick released the proposed county budget last week. The budget is down from $118.3 million last year to $115.8 million this year.

The mill levy is substantially lower as well, at 103.34 mills. Last year it was 143.86 mills.

But the actual property taxes rise from $45.5 million last year to $48.4 million this year.

Half the increase, about $1.4 million, comes from growth in the county.

The county will also not levy all the mills it could under state law, leaving 5.47 mills untaxed, he noted.

With the mill levy reduction, a homeowner that didn’t see a change in taxable value, would see a decrease in taxes.

But most homeowners saw sizable hikes in their assessments — many over 40%.

Thus, even with the reduction in mills, homeowners may or may not see a reduction in their actual tax bill. Using our property as an example, the Hungry Horse News calculated the difference.

A house currently assessed for $540,000 would pay about $753 in county property taxes under this budget.

Under the ’22-23 budget it would have paid $733.95, — a difference of about $21 more than last year, even with the mill reduction.

The county budget does have some notable highlights, Melnick noted, including $2.5 million toward a future replacement of the Flathead County Detention Center, $50,000 toward replacing a ball field at Conrad Complex and $250,000 toward a new home for the Imagine If Library in Kalispell.

The budget also includes the addition of two deputy county attorneys and an increase in the total compensation by $155,440 in order to retain staff.

The county currently has 557 employees, Melnick’s report notes.

They received a 4% cost of living adjustment, which amounted to $1.2 million.

He also noted the Sheriff’s Department is now fully staffed both with deputies and detention staff.

Melnick noted two challenges in 2024 — the expansion of the county detention center and the creation of a new county septage facility.

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