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Report: Bozeman has fourth-highest property taxes per capita, fourth-lowest median household income

Posted at 3:11 PM, Feb 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-26 18:48:48-05

BOZEMAN – On Monday, a data report will be given to the city commission that shows where Bozeman ranks in taxable revenue compared to other cities.

The study will be presented by Economic Research Specialist Michael Wallner, who looked at data collected from 13 cities including Billings, Whitefish, Boulder and Fort Collins.

Wallner said the most shocking information was that Bozeman ranks fourth highest in property taxes collected per capita, yet has the fourth lowest median household income.

“If we keep increasing this property tax,” said Wallner, “eventually people in the middle class are not going to be able to afford to live here. And then we will become more like a Sun Valley or a Jackson Hole, and I think everybody recognizes that we have a high quality of life. We have an amazing community, and that is something that we are striving to support in this valley.”

Wallner said one of the ways to decrease this property tax burden is through a local option sales tax, which the city of Bozeman has been lobbying for at the Montana Legislature.

Deputy Mayor Chris Mehl said with Bozeman’s second high school, the building of a new Public Safety Center, and the possibility of a new Law & Justice Center, property taxes are going up.

“You can’t keep going to the well and not dry it up,” said Mehl. “It’s not fair and it’s not right, so it is a lot to put on one tool. So if you can diversify that, I think it is fair but it is also more stable and frankly, there is gonna be more acceptance over the long run.”

Mehl said one of the options the city is pushing for is the local option sales tax. Right now, the city is lobbying for House Bill 195, which would give cities in Montana the ability to ask citizens to vote on implementing a 2% sales tax on certain goods and services.

Reporting by Mederios Babb for MTN News