LETTER: Local property taxes need to be capped | Opinion
After Park and Teton home-owning citizens opened their property tax assessments for 2022 last week, their first question had to have been: “You gotta be kidding me!”
My friend on the South Fork had a 38% increase taking his taxes over $7,000. Another friend on the North Fork saw his taxes jet to $8,700. This is the stuff of Eastern high taxes – taxes so very high that many people are taxed out of their homes!
The second question Park and Teton home-owning citizens asked was: “Why didn’t my elected officials foresee these high taxes and what did they do to reduce it?”
Good question. After all, elected officials are SUPPOSED to be looking out for our good and surely letting property taxes escalate to the point of taxing good citizens out of their homes is unconscionable.
The answer is this: Good conservatives brought up SF69 which capped property tax [at 5% annual interest] – this bill was brought up during the budget session.
But three of our elected officials in Park County (and in Teton as well) dropped the ball fully knowing that the citizens in these two counties were going to get shellacked by property taxes that were up to 50% higher in 2022!
The proposed SF69 was referred to the Agriculture Committee during February’s Budget Session (5% cap) and was defeated 3-2 with Park County’s State Sen. R.J. Kost casting the vote that killed it.
It gets worse: Our very own Park County Commissioner Lee Livingston went clear down to the Capitol to testify AGAINST this bill that would have capped property tax knowing full well what was coming! What elected official would be against a cap knowing that some of his citizens would experience up to a 50% tax increase? And this being an increase that can and will tax some people out of their homes! Think of people on fixed income or retired folks – they’re goners.
And what’s totally shameful: Our very own county assessor testified against the SF 69 as well! That’s insane. And what’s more pitiful: He feigned “astonishment” when he got his own property tax bill! Ha! He’s the one who did the assessments!
Further, our very own State Representative of Cody and the North Fork and South Fork – Sandy Newsome of HD 24 – did NOTHING. She neither introduced a similar cap bill in the house, nor did she testify for SF69. She knew darn well Park County citizens would be harmed by her inaction.
So one asks: Why would these four elected officials drop the ball for the citizens of Park County? Answer: They LOVE taxes! If you look at the record of Livingston, Kost and Newsome you will see they have voted for lots of NEW taxes over the years they have been in office.
Now three things must be done: 1. The county commissioners must reduce mills to lower the property tax; 2. Vote out the elected officials who failed to act for a cap; 3. Newly elected reps and senators must cap property taxes via a new bill at 2% (that’s what California has for a cap).