Like most Montanans in November, I am extremely irritated. I received my property tax assessment this month. To no surprise, my property taxes increased again. Every year I have watched my property taxes climb. Since 2015, I have watched my property taxes skyrocket!
In the 2015 Legislature, a state legislator from Flathead County championed a property tax bill that shortened the property tax reappraisal process from every 6 years to every 2 years. This has resulted in the significant acceleration of property tax increases over the past 4 years. The unintended consequence is that it is killing all of us who pay property taxes!
After traveling throughout Montana for the past 6 months, I have found that the most common issue all Montanans are concerned about is how expensive their property taxes have become. It is just wrong to tax the people of Montana out of their homes. As your next governor, here is my solution to right this wrong. First, we will deliver significant property tax reform by capping all property tax increases to 3.5%. Any attempt by the state to increase your property taxes above 3.5% will require voter approval. Second, we will appraise the value of all homesteads and commercial property at their purchase price or their appraised value in 2010, whichever is the most recent. The appraised value will not change until it is sold or transferred to another party. Third, we will simplify the tax appraisal and protest process, making it transparent for all to understand. Finally, it is time to disconnect the K-12 school budget from property tax and find another funding stream to pay for schools.
Skyrocketing property taxes are painful to all of us and they are forcing our senior Montanans, who live on a fixed income, to sell their homes and move out of the state. We all want Montana to be the best state to live, to work, and to raise a family. We also want Montana to be an affordable place to live. Significant property tax reform is the important step toward keeping the “Montana way of life” affordable for all hard working Montanans. As your next governor, I will make property tax reform my first priority in the next legislative session of 2021.
Al “Doc” Olszewski, MD
Candidate for Governor 2020
State Senator, SD 6