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First Property Tax Relief Bill Hits Governor Gordon’s Desk

WY State Capitol building

Homeowners looking for property tax relief in Park County that has escalated in the past couple of years may be having their prayers answered.

But not everyone will be happy, if the bill is signed into law by Governor Mark Gordon.

For the past two years, property taxes have escalated.  According to Park County Assessor Pat Meyer, they’re not expected to recede any time soon.

On average, and adjusted for inflation, property taxes rose in Park County 10 percent in 2021, almost 24 percent in 2022 and over 18 percent in 2023.  And there is no relief in sight as the assessor’s office is expecting another 18 percent increase this year.

Between inflation and increased demand from people moving into the area, the assessed values of Park County’s residential properties rose by an average of 10.3% in 2021, another 23.5% in 2022 and then 18.7% last year, according to data compiled by Meyer. And based on the sales data he’s seen, the assessor is predicting another 18% increase this year.

So far, a contentious 2024 legislative session has yielded a few bills, but none with the potential of impacting Wyoming homeowners like House Bill 3 which lands on Governor Mark Gordon’s desk for his signature this week.

Under the bill passed through both the Wyoming Senate and House, some, but not all homeowners would see major property tax relief, with some caveats.

As the bill is written, long-term homeowners would be benefit from a 50 percent tax reduction as long as the homeowner is 65 years of age or older and has paid property taxes in Wyoming for more than 25 years.  The bill clarifies that it would not have to be the same property owned for 25 years or more, but the qualified homeowner would have to have a history of paying property taxes for over a quarter-century.

The bill was passed by the Senate by a vote count of 21-0. 10 Senators abstained because of a conflict of interest due to their ages.

State Rep. Steve Harshman (R-Casper), co-chair of the Joint Revenue Committee that drafted House Bill 3, tells Cowboy State Daily, “I’m really tickled that we can provide some relief.” Property taxes across the state have risen rapidly, but especially so in Park County.  Harshman says it’s about protecting people who are a certain age, “When people reach that retirement age it’s really important to have this security,” Harshman said. “We can all agree that people who have been here all of their lives need a little bit of a break.”

For someone to qualify, the home would have to be a primary residence, which means property that are vacation or rental homes, commercial property, and land would be exempt from the 50 percent reduction.  But owners who live in and own a property designed to house up to four families can still qualify for the discount.

As far as the money that would be lost to the discount, the bill projects that residential property taxes for the Cowboy State would be reduced by almost $11 million in 2025 and over $11 million in 2026.

The bill is projected to decrease overall residential property taxes in the state by $10.6 million in 2026 and nearly $11 million in 2026. That deficit will not be back-filled, according to the language in the bill.

HB 3 would go into effect in 2025 and would automatically expire in 2027.

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