What’s causing Montana’s skyrocketing property taxes?
“Collecting more taxes than is absolutely necessary is legalized robbery.” – President Calvin Coolidge
It’s no secret that property taxes are a major issue across the state. And with reappraisal notices hitting the mailboxes the last few weeks, many Montanans are fearful of rising property taxes. While experts caution higher valuations don’t guarantee higher taxes, another factor is guaranteed to increase your tax burden: local governments growing their budgets.
To get a better understanding of just how much local governments in Montana are spending we partnered with economist Vance Ginn, to create the 2024 Real Local Budgets report.
In this new report, the budgets of Montana’s six most populous counties and cities are compared to the metric of population growth plus inflation – considered by many to be an effective benchmark for responsible budget growth.
And the results are nothing less than stunning!
The cities of Missoula, Bozeman and Kalispell have each more than doubled their budgets since FY 2014, outpacing population growth plus inflation by a combined average 95%. Yellowstone, Gallatin and Missoula top the county spenders since FY 14, growing past population growth plus inflation by an average 41%.
Missoula remains a major center for reckless spending, with the city increasing it’s budget 56.72% faster than the growth of the economy, as measured by population growth plus inflation:
But Missoula isn’t the only one, since FY 2014, the City of Bozeman’s budget has grown 68.4% faster than the growth of the economy, as measured by population growth plus inflation:
So how does your city and county stack up?
At a time when Montanans are buckling down and budgeting to save money, local governments should be following their lead. Property tax relief is possible, but only if local governments engage in fiscal responsibility.
“Greater Good” or “Common Good”
In Jack Brown’s latest viewpoint column he discusses the difference between “The Greater Good” and “The Common Good.”
“The natural human drive to do good is commendable. However, when the pursuit of this “good” necessitates coercion and aggression against the few, it loses its nobility.”
Uncontrolled Spending Burden Taxpayers
In Frontier President & CEO, Kendall Cotton’s latest op-ed he unpacks the 2024 Real Local Budgets report and suggests reforms that could address the reckless spending many local governments are engaging in.
“A more robust cap on the growth of property tax collections might help provide some additional relief to existing homeowners and businesses, but it won’t solve the underlying spending problem in many communities because local governments will simply target property owners with special assessments, fees or some other revenue gimmick to fund increased budgets.”
Louis Armstrong In Montana
In this month’s Frontier History column, renowned author, Lawrence W. Reed discusses when famous musician Louis Armstrong, the King of Jazz & one of the most beloved black entertainers of the 20th Century, visited Great Falls.
“If he were with us today, could he still think of the world as “wonderful?” I think he could, and he would. He was always more interested in the good in people than the bad. That’s just the way he was, and probably the way the rest of us ought to be.”