County postponing budget vote due to error from Department of Revenue

Cascade County Commissioners scheduled a special meeting for Sept 4 to conduct a public hearing and vote on the budget and mill levies.

But on Thursday afternoon, the county was notified by the Montana Department of Revenue that it had found an error in the certified taxable values it issued on Aug. 8.

Proposed county budget available online, includes tax increases

The error was significant so the county, City of Great Falls and School District #1 requested that DOR provide a revised certified value upon which they can base their mill levy calculations.

County Commissioner Joe Briggs told The Electric that the value of the city mill, school district mill, transit district mill, state education mills and the county-wide mills each went down by $363,279. The change was in the taxable values within the city limits, Briggs said.

Melissa Kinzler, city finance director, said the city hasn’t yet received the actual revised certified taxable valuation information from the DOR. She said the city should be getting the information on Tuesday and then will have a better idea of how the change will affect the city budget, which was adopted in July, and the mill levy, which was adopted earlier this month.

Commission approves tax increase for Great Falls residents

Briggs said the change matters since the maximum number of mills that a jurisdiction can levy is also tied to the maximum revenue so when the value of the mills goes down, the jurisdiction can levy more mills to get back to the maximum revenue figure. The maximum figure is based on the taxes levied the year prior plus half the average rate of inflation for the prior three years, Briggs said.

He said it’s not possible to know the impact to the proposed budget and mill levies until the county receives the new calculations.

Briggs said his best guess is that most county taxpayers will see a small increase in property taxes instead of the small reduction that he was hoping to get in the county’s budget.

The county is still holding a public hearing on the budget on Sept. 4 but will not take final action since officials will need time to evaluate the changes and address any impact to the budget or mill levy. The county cannot proceed with its mill setting process until the other jurisdictions finalize their adjustments and the city and schools may need to hold additional public hearings, depending on the changes.