County budget approval pushed to Sept. 25; city will revise mill levy
The Montana Department of Revenue notified Cascade County and the taxing jurisdictions within the county of an error in their 2018 certified taxable values.
That error has caused the Cascade County Commission to delay their budget and mill levy vote to Sept. 25.
The affected taxing jurisdictions have requested revised certified values from DoR.
The City of Great Falls adopted its budget in July and set its mill levy in August. The city will rescind that vote during the Sept. 18 meeting to adjust the mills and re-vote.
Melissa Kinzler, city finance director, said that the city still ended up with about a $91,000 increase in newly taxable value but will need to assess more mills.
Kinzler said the adjustment won’t likely have much impact on homeowners.
The error was caused by Calumet Montana Refining protesting this year’s tax valuation. The refinery is already involved in an active tax appeal process for past year’s valuations.
County Commissioners reviewed their proposed budget during a Sept. 4 work session and they aren’t yet sure how the DoR error will affect the planned budget.
Once the county receives the revised certified values, the county has 30 days to adopt a budget, under state law.
The county has been operating under an interim budget since late June and number of the capital projects included in the fiscal year 2019 budget have already been contracted, including the grandstand replacement, the Paddock Club renovation and the expansion at the juvenile detention center.
The proposed budget also includes two new deputies, four bailiffs and four public works positions.
The budget also includes a 2.1 percent pay increase for county elected officials and non-union employees. This year, the cost of health care premiums for employees went down, saving the county about $30,000, according to Mary Embleton, the county budget officer.
Commissioner Joe Briggs there has been growth in the county and the DoR error demonstrates why business and commercial investment in the county is important since that sector pays more in property taxes.
“The goal has always been to increase commercial development,” he said, since that lowers the tax burden on homeowners.
The proposed budget also includes the special emergency disaster two mills to help cover road repair costs from the June flooding in the county. The county requested funding from the state, which was approved, and requires a two mill local match, which equates to about $132,000, according to local officials.
Most of that funding will go toward repairing South Manchester Road, according to county officials.