County tax base shrinks

Posted 4/13/21

Because of last year’s slowdown in the oil and gas industry, local governments will collect significantly fewer property taxes this year, though the exact amount has yet to be determined.

At …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

E-mail
Password
Log in

County tax base shrinks

Posted

Because of last year’s slowdown in the oil and gas industry, local governments will collect significantly fewer property taxes this year, though the exact amount has yet to be determined.

At a Park County Commission meeting last week, Assessor Pat Meyer predicted that the value of taxable property in the county fell nearly 15% from 2019 to 2020. Meyer’s rough estimate is that the county’s 2020 assessed valuation will come in around $604 million — down from more than $706 million a year ago.

If that prediction holds true and local governments leave their tax rates at the same levels, K-12 schools, the county and city governments, fire departments, cemetery districts and other taxing entities would potentially collect somewhere around $43.3 million. That’s about $7.3 million less than they assessed in property taxes in 2019.

“It’s a little better than I thought we were going to be,” Meyer told commissioners on April 6.

He said the lower valuation “won’t be too bad — and of course next year we’ll be better.”

The drop was expected amid last year’s economic turbulence. Mineral prices plummeted as the pandemic hit and production sagged. The industry produced 20% less oil and about 15% less natural gas in Park County in 2020 as compared to the prior year, according to Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission data analyzed by the Tribune.

That drop is being partially offset by a rise in local property values, as residential real estate sales and development has been surging amid the COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, data compiled by the assessor’s office indicates that from April to September 2020, the average home sales price rose by more than 30% from the same period in 2019, while the median sales price rose by roughly 8.5%.

However, changes in mineral prices and production generally overshadow the shifts in local property values. 

As Meyer noted in December, “local valuation is good, but you’ve got to remember the way oil and gas goes, they go up and down.”

That’s because oil and natural gas are taxed on 100% of their market value, whereas residential and commercial properties are taxed on only 9.5% of what they’re worth. As Meyer put it, it takes “a lot of houses” to offset a drop in mineral production.

At that Dec. 1 meeting, the assessor said he wished that local governments could rely more on local values, but noted that the Wyoming Legislature has been saying no to any new taxes.

“They don’t want us to pay any more, nobody likes that, but you’ve got to get realistic,” Meyer said.

Park County property owners will receive their new market values from the assessor’s office later this month, though the amount of taxes they’ll pay won’t officially be determined until local governments set the tax rates — known as mill levies — this summer.

In 2020, Park County residents and businesses were asked to pay a total of $50.63 million in property taxes — up about 1.4% from 2019, according to records compiled by the Wyoming Department of Revenue. More than two-thirds of those taxes — around $34 million — went toward K-12 education.

Comments