Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - Dr. Patrick Barkey, Director of the University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research was the featured guest on the KGVO Talk Back show on Wednesday and answered several questions about the property tax reappraisals that have caused uproar here in Missoula County.

Dr. Barkey was Criticized over his Comments on Property Taxes

Dr. Barkey said the property tax reflects the value of that property, which actually enhances the overall wealth of the property owner.

Following that comment, Representative Brad Molnar called into the show to dispute Barkey’s assertion.

“My name is Brad, and I'm a state senator from Yellowstone County,” he began. “I serve on the tax committee, and I take a lot of umbrage with what you just said, when a man called in about the taxation based on the house across the street went up. It's not something we have to accept. It's not something that says hey, we chose this. It's in the Constitution, article eight section three, that you will be taxed based on appraisal.”

Barkey Agreed that Tax Policy can be changed Through Legislation

Barkey responded to Representative Molnar’s comment, agreeing with the possible solution through legislation.

“The basis for a property tax is the value of the property, and once the value of the property goes up, then that affects the calculation of your property tax,” said Barkey. “It's not dollar for dollar, but in the case of local government and schools that are limited in terms of how much they can increase their levies, so it's not a dollar-for-dollar increase in taxes. In terms of whether we can change it within the parameters of the Constitution, that’s absolutely right. I don't disagree with that for a second.”

Barkey Expressed Concern over Montana's Electric Grid

One of the topics to be addressed in an upcoming statewide tour to be conducted in early August is the increasing pressure on the electric grid and the move to eliminate coal from the energy portfolio.

“One of the things that people don't talk about that we're trying to get people to talk about is electricity resource adequacy,” he said. “We're going through a rather hot summer, particularly in other parts of the state. It's testing grids, but more importantly, not just right now, but for the next decade. When you look at the forces at play, both regulatory and political, to shut down base load generation strictly from coal, it's, this transition to renewable fuels has to be confronted with the reality that power demand is actually increasing, and that some of these technologies to replace what we say we want to get rid of, are not quite ready for prime time.”

Barkey also had an ominous warning about the lack of power infrastructure investment in the state.

“We're dealing with some thinner margins, and quite frankly, we think that particularly the business audience, but also all homeowners need to be aware of what's at stake in the issues with regard to resource adequacy,” he said. “That's not just generation. It's also transmission. This reluctance to build in this economy is coming around to the electric power industry. We haven't built transmission lines. We haven't built things that we need to replace what's wearing out.”

Click here to get details of the upcoming 2023 Midyear Economic Update.

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