Park County appraiser calls for caps on property taxes

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Park County is experiencing an unprecedented rise in real estate values, and the factors contributing to rising real estate values ​​are diverse and complex.

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

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

Park County has not been immune to the factors, both local and global, affecting real estate values. As County Assessor Pat Meyer explains, “We can’t control the skyrocketing value of our property, but I believe we can limit the tax increases with sensible legislation.”

In the coming days, Park County real estate owners will receive their estimates for 2022. These calculations determine the taxable value of the property and many owners will see increases of 25-45%.

Some owners will find the hikes shocking, Meyer said — his own home is up about 35% from last year. But his hands are tied as District Assessor. State laws require appraisers to determine fair value using a consistent system that takes into account comparable sales dates, replacement costs, and depreciation.

“We don’t determine the market – we follow it,” said Meyer.

District officials are currently considering various solutions. Of course, tax reform is always an option.

Meyer sees a viable solution in limiting tax increases through sensible legislation. Meyer continued, “I will continue my efforts to do just that.”

The housing boom has created an issue of local urgency. According to a press release from the Assessor’s Office, buyers spent nearly “$294 million on Park County land in 2021 — $100 million, or about 50%, more than in 2019.”

Within two years, the median price for residential and commercial real estate went from “$262,000” to over “$376,000”.

Property values ​​skyrocketed in 2020 as people moved in from abroad, “but not like this,” says Meyers. Meyers has worked in the appraisal office for four decades, and he says he’s “never experienced anything like it” in recent years.

Rising real estate values ​​have positive aspects. First, it’s good news for homeowners who are getting more equity out of their property.

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

Meyers says matter-of-factly about Park County’s appeal, “Park County is a great place to live, and the rest of the country seems to have discovered Wyoming.”

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