County plans largest-ever property tax break for next year

Cut that would occur in 2022 is set to be approved on Dec. 14

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Douglas County residents will likely see a reduction in the mill levy rate used to calculate their property taxes next year — assuming that the county commissioners approves the planned cut in early December.

The tax break would result in the county not collecting about $10 million from residents.

“After months of analysis we were able to conclude that we could maintain county service levels, give our property owners 1.25 mill credit on their property taxes and still plan for a generous contingency for the new county health department in the event we see Tri-County Health dissolve as a regional health district,” said Commissioner George Teal.

While the county recently formed its own health department, it contracts with Tri-County for almost all its public health services. 

This is the largest temporary property tax cut in the county’s history, said Martha Marshall, the county’s budget director. The break is possible because of an increase in home values during the value reassessments from 2020, which won’t be collected until next year. It’s also because of the county keeping expenses low, Marshall said.

“I think it’s really our philosophy and how we approach budgeting,” she said.

Next year’s budget, which would include the tax break, is set to be approved during a Dec. 14 business meeting.

While the mill levy would be reduced if approved, the overall budget is still growing, Marshall said. This cut won’t have any impact on county services, she said. 

Commissioner Abe Laydon said the county’s lack of debt was a factor in moving forward with the tax break.

“A lot of governments will generate more revenues on the backs of property owners and even though they may be in situations where revenue is up, they continue to allow the mill levy to go up as well,” he said. “We really do believe in having a balanced budget and not spending money that we don’t have.”

Mill levies are multiplied by the state’s assessment rates and the home’s value to calculate taxes on properties. 

While the county normally collects property taxes with a rate of 18.774 mills, this move would result in a 17.524 rate next year, a 1.25 reduction. That means that for a $600,000 residential property, the home owner will save $54. In other words, for every $100,000 in value, there is $9 in credit. 

For commercial properties, there is a $36 credit for every $100,000 of value because of a different state assessment rate.

This isn’t the first time the county has given a property tax break. In 2021, 2020 and 2017 the county provided breaks of half a mill.

More information is available on the county’s budget by visiting douglas.co.us/budget or douglas.co.us/budget-books.

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