’Tis the season for property tax bills.
When property owners open their bills next month, they’ll see their tax rate has gone down by about 1.8%, but total taxes are still going way up.
Last year, public entities including state and local school districts, the hospital and the county collected just shy of $132.5 million. This year, that number will rise to $178.8 million. That’s a 35% increase.
That’s despite many entities chipping in to reduce their tax rate. In 2021, Teton County residents paid $56.979 for each $1,000 of assessed value.
Teton County, Weed and Pest Control Special District, Teton County School District and Teton Conservation District each dropped their mills by less than one to reduce this year’s tax rate to $55.979 per each $1,000 of assessed value.
Each taxpayer is contributing 1.8% less than they would have, had the public kept their rates the same.
A full half of that rate reduction comes from county commissioners who decided to drop their mills from 7.379 to 6.879 back in May. Commissioners in each county have the ability to tax 12 mills. With its infamously tight housing market, Teton County is consistently one of the only counties to not leverage that full amount to pay for general services.
That gesture to taxpayers is still dwarfed by the average bill increase, which Teton County Assessor Melissa Shinkle has estimated at 30-50% this year, depending on a property’s location.
Wyoming requires property taxes to be assessed annually based on the market value of a home, a number derived from the features of a home, like the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, improvements and recent sales in the neighborhood.
If taxpayers take issue with how their home is being assessed, they can make their case to county commissioners and the county attorney.
This year, 130 property owners have filed appeals. Most withdrew their appeals after either further inspections from the assessor’s office or after the property owner gained a “better understanding of the process,” Shinkle said.
As of Monday, 55 appeals remained. Last year commissioners heard about half that number, Shinkle said, an uptick which could come from the increasing number of second homeowners with high expectations for Wyoming’s notoriously low tax rate.
Appeal reviews start at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday and are expected to last about eight full days from early August to September, including appeals from last year on which the State Board of Equalization, made up of three members, has fallen behind.
If there’s been any pattern in the people who want a second look at their assessments, it’s that they’re very “high value” homes, Shinkle said.
There’s only about three people who have filed appeals that could be considered “normal” homes for Teton County. The rest, Shinkle said, have homes valued in excess of $5 million.
The median listing home price in Teton County was $2.8 million in June 2022, trending up 44.8% since 2019 according to Realtor.com.
Appeals are heard in the commissioners’ chambers and are open to the public, but will not be streamed. Landowners must appear in person for their hearing, a fact which could dissuade second home owners from showing up.
The online version of this article has been corrected to say tax bills go out in September. - Ed.