Property taxes have long been a common discussion across Montana, but some residents may have a reason to feel that their property taxes are rising faster.
“Taxes have to be paid by the public. They cannot be imposed on any class. There is no power that can prevent a distribution of the burden. The landlord may be the one who sends a check to the public treasury, but his tenants nevertheless make the payment.” – Former President Calvin Coolidge
Missoula residents in particular have been especially hit hard with seemingly relentless property taxes increases. Despite the City of Missoula’s attempt to justify their property taxes, some residents are still seeing property taxes increase faster than both the state of Montana’s average yearly increase and the national average yearly property tax increases.
Our new analysis takes three Missoula homes estimated to be close to the city’s median home price from earlier in the year of $420,000, then calculates the average yearly increase in property taxes from 2007 to 2020. The numbers are an eye-opener for those denying that property taxes have risen.
The report found that the average yearly increase in each home’s property taxes from 2016 to 2020 were 7.4%, 8%, and 6.5%. These increases are considerably higher than Montana’s average yearly property tax increase of 5% and drastically higher than the national yearly property tax increase average of roughly 3.2%. While it may seem small, a few percentage point increase over the national average could amount to a difference of thousands of dollars for many homeowners over ten years.
Why then have property taxes increased so much faster in Missoula? The answer shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise – it’s largely due to Missoula’s voracious spending. Missoula’s budget has grown 128% faster than the growth of population plus inflation. The growth of Missoula’s budget means that the city must increase taxes to meet their constitutional requirement to balance their budget.
Missoula’s obsession with breaking its own reckless spending record may lead the city to its demise as residents continue to be taxed out of their own homes. Spending increases have to be paid for by someone, skyrocketing property taxes are a telltale sign that a city’s spending is out of control. Missoulians should hold officials accountable for their reckless spending by demanding that they implement reforms to limit the growth of spending.
Removing Barriers to Affordable Child Care
- Montana families are facing a childcare crisis, which has been exasperated by the pandemic. Parents can not afford rising childcare costs, and childcare providers are struggling to stay open.
Our Take: Montana law restricts child care by requiring staffing ratios and group sizes, even though research shows that staff-to-child ratios have little effect on quality or safety but do increase the cost of childcare. A one-infant increase in the child–staff ratio requirement for infants is associated with a decrease in the cost of care of between 9 percent and 20 percent. These requirements were waived during the pandemic, bringing into question the necessity of such requirements in the first place. Montana should permanently reduce or eliminate child-staff ratios and maximum group size requirements in order to address the childcare shortage.
- Frontier Institute President and CEO Kendall Cotton was featured in the Fall edition of the Western Multifamily & Affordable Housing Business, make sure to check it out here.
“Our local governments have imposed burdensome zoning, and land-use regulations that prevent the housing market from meeting demand, which drives up property values and makes housing unaffordable for average people.”
Introducing New Board Members
- The Frontier Institute is thrilled to announce the addition of two new board members, Scot Miller and Joe Coco. We’re excited to have such thoughtful and experienced individuals join our board!
Scot Miller is the owner/broker of Scot A Miller & Associates, a commodity futures brokerage based in Billings, Montana. Scot is a longtime resident of Billings, where he and his wife Robyn homeschooled their four children and became well known as passionate advocates for educational freedom and choice for all families.
Joe Coco CFP®, a former Marine Corps Officer, is the owner/manager of Coco Enterprises, LLC, a financial planning and investment advisory firm in Whitefish, Montana. Joe is also a public speaker and blogger who enjoys speaking and teaching on a variety of topics including economics and political philosophy, leadership, excellent living, and financial stewardship. Since moving to Whitefish, Joe has served on a variety of civic and non-profit boards, and he is a member of the Whitefish Church of the Nazarene. In his free time, Joe enjoys studying and debating philosophy, summer and winter backpacking, and physical fitness. Joe and his wife Linda have been married since 1985, and they have two adult children and one granddaughter.