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County commissioner who led fight against Montana property tax increases speaks out as new bills loom

Posted at 12:19 PM, Feb 27, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-27 14:23:12-05

DILLON — Despite losing a ruling by the Montana Supreme Court on the 95 mills property tax collection issue, a Beaverhead County commissioner who spearheaded the fight and inspired others across the state to join him says that his work on the issue is just beginning.

“I was really, seriously disappointed that we lost the Supreme Court thing because I thought it was there but with that, let’s get the bills sent out to the people,” said Beaverhead County Commissioner Mike McGinley.

Last year, McGinley united 49 Montana counties in a revolt against a decision by Governor Greg Gianforte to collect the full amount of the 95 mills, which amounts to a statewide tax bill of almost $80 million—a huge increase from previous years, leaving McGinley to question exactly where the extra money is going.

“What they’re doing is repadding the general fund on the backs of the taxpayers and calling it, ‘It’s for the children,’ and that’s not right,” he said. “And the way they’re pulling this off now is to increase property taxes, put it in the fund, and claiming they’re giving local taxes back, but it’s all gonna be on the local tax bill.”

McGinely says such a move is sleight of hand.

“So a Republican legislature and a Republican governor is growing state government on purpose, putting it on county tax bills, blaming county commissioners across the state of increasing this and then through formula they’re going to give 55 percent of it back as tax breaks to local property taxes. I’m still trying to find out where the other 45 percent goes,” McGinley said.

McGinley says his next step is to continue to educate people—including candidates and current legislators, as well as taxpayers.

“And that is my goal, is to educate, educate, educate. I want to educate as many as I can,” he said.

Within the next month, taxpayers in Butte-Silver Bow, Gallatin, and Beaverhead counties will see adjusted tax bills.