Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - ‘Tis the season when property reappraisals will be hitting the mailbox and during a press conference at the Missoula County Courthouse on Tuesday, the overall message was ‘DON’T PANIC”.

The Message to Taxpayers is 'Don't Panic' Over Reappraisals

First to speak at the press conference was Clerk and Recorder and Treasurer Tyler Gernant, where property taxes are paid. Gernant described the notices that property owners will be receiving in the mail.

“This year you'll be getting a reappraisal notice that we'll go out at the end of this month,” began Gernant. “On that reappraisal notice, you'll see two very important numbers. One of those numbers is probably pretty exciting and the other one may not be as exciting. The first number is your market value that's going to be listed. The other number is your estimated taxes and your estimated taxes are based off of last year's mills levied by all local government taxing jurisdictions, and that number will probably be pretty scary this year. There's a very specific reason for that because residential market values in Missoula County have gone up by an average of 37 percent over the last two years.”

County Commissioner Josh Slotnick said the two numbers taken together would indeed be alarming for property taxpayers, however, there is a caveat that may mitigate those numbers.

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County Commissioner Josh Slotnick said the Tax Increases won't be as High

“If we were to take the same number of mills we did last year, and multiply it times the home value of this year, we would go way beyond the mill cap that the state has set; it's an impossibility,” said Slotnick. “The state says there's a mill cap, meaning you can only levy a certain number of mills. If we did the same number of mills last year times the home value of this year, it would crush the mill cap. It would be illegal and it couldn't be done.”

Gernant said there is a way to challenge the amount your home has been valued for, but it could be a two-edged sword.

“If your market value is more than what you think you could sell it for, you can file an informal request for reappraisal with one large caveat, which is that informal request for a reappraisal can go either direction,” he said. “So if you're filing it just to get another bite at the apple and see if you can get a lower value, and it is determined when a specific look at your property is taken that your property was undervalued, your property can actually go up in value, so it's important to recognize that if that number is correct, if you think you could sell your home for that, then there's not really much purpose behind filing that informal request for reappraisal.”

Gernant Provided a Proverb about Property Taxes

Gernant related a story about how to take the property tax increases in stride, in which a man and his son were looking at the father’s property tax bill.

“As he sat at his kitchen table with his dad who was looking at the property tax bill, and writing out the check for the payment and he looked at the bill and being a kid, said ‘Holy cow, that's a lot of money! Why do we have to pay that much?’ And his dad responded with something that clearly stuck with him his whole life and has stuck with me as well, which is, ‘Son, we live in the greatest country club in the world, and I'm proud to pay my dues’.”

Click the links above to hear all of the individual presentations at Tuesday’s press conference.

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