Rapid growth in Gallatin County has brought with it an increase in the number of taxable properties and an increase in property values.

Based on state data released this week, the county received $13.2 million in newly taxable properties this year, which will provide about $960,000 in new tax revenue, said finance director Justine Swanson.

The value of newly taxable property is higher this year than in the past several years, when it averaged about $10 million annually, according to the Montana Department of Revenue.

The Gallatin County Commissioners use the new tax revenue for one-time expenses such as new equipment and building improvements. This is because they can’t predict how much new tax revenue they will receive in a given year and, therefore, don’t want to rely on it for the county’s ongoing needs.

The county’s rapid growth has also contributed to a jump in property tax values, which the Department of Revenue began releasing this spring. Residential property tax values increased 23.3% and commercial property tax values increased 19.8% between 2018 and 2019. These numbers are well above the state’s average increase of 12.5% for residential properties and 9.9% for commercial properties.

Neighboring counties also saw large jumps in their property tax values, which the Department of Revenue sets based on information like a property’s size and condition. Madison County’s residential property tax values increased 28.9% while commercial property tax values went up 20.7%. Park County saw its residential property tax value increase 19.5% and its commercial property tax value grow 27.2%.

A jump in property values doesn’t necessarily mean property taxes will increase. State law only allows counties to raise taxes a certain amount, which means an increase in property tax value doesn’t translate directly to an increase in tax revenue for the county. The county commissioners also have a policy of not levying the maximum taxes that state law permits, reserving that capacity as a form of savings.

“This commission and previous commissions have been miserly,” Commissioner Don Seifert said.

The commissioners have not yet determined tax rates for next year as they are still finalizing the budget. Over the last few weeks, the commissioners have received supplemental budget requests from some departments, which will be discussed at meetings on Aug. 16 and Aug. 22.

Like the county, other jurisdictions — including the city of Bozeman and the school district — collect property taxes.

Perrin Stein can be reached at 406-582-2648 or at pstein@dailychronicle.com. Follow her on Twitter @PerrinStein.

Perrin Stein is the county, state and federal government reporter for the Chronicle.

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