SHERIDAN — As county valuation and property taxes have increased in the last year, so have the value of the mills levied by Sheridan County.

In fiscal year 2023, which began July 1, county valuation tops $610.67 million, which is up from $504.61 million in the previous fiscal year, Sheridan County Assessor Paul Fall said. The increase means local school districts, governments and special districts can expect a roughly 21% increase in mill levy funding this year.

For example, the 12 mills that fund the county’s general fund have increased in value from $6.05 million in fiscal year 2022 to $7.33 million in fiscal year 2023. Similarly, the 25-mill operating budget levy for Sheridan County School District 2 increased from $9.20 million to $11.15 million, while the city of Sheridan’s eight-mill levy has increased from $1.85 million to $2.25 million.

Mills provide funds for school districts, community colleges, fire districts, weed and pest districts and local governments, among other things. These entities determine the mills needed to fund their budget, and the Sheridan County commissioners approve the levies each year, as they did again this year Aug. 1.

One mill is equal to 1/1,000 of the total property valuation within a tax district, Fall said. Each tax district within the county has a legal right to collect a certain number of mills on the property in its district.

While the number of mills levied by these entities don’t vary much from year to year, the value of a mill can change significantly based on the county’s valuation, which is in turn impacted by the values of locally and state-assessed properties, Fall said.

Locally-assessed properties are the residential and commercial properties within Sheridan County. State-assessed properties are all the public utilities, railroads and mineral resources within the county valued by the U.S. Department of Revenue.

Historically, Sheridan County’s valuation is driven heavily by locally-assessed properties, and that was true again this year, with 94.42% of the county valuation coming from locally assessed properties and only 5.58% coming from state-assessed properties, Sheridan County Administrative Director Renee Obermueller said.

Fall said he only recalls one year — during a methane boom in 2008 — when the value of state-assessed properties in the county was higher than the locally-assessed.

“Here in Sheridan, we just don’t have the sort of mineral activity that is happening in Campbell County or other parts of the state,” Fall said. “So the valuation here is really driven by those local values.”

Those local values have increased significantly in the last year due to a robust real estate market, Fall said.

While the number of residential real estate sales stayed fairly steady in 2021, the average sales price went up by nearly 25%, local realtor Tom Belus previously told The Sheridan Press, and most Sheridan County residents saw an assessment increase of between 10% and 60% on their properties this year, Fall said.

Fall acknowledged the increase in county valuation was a classic “good news/bad news” situation for the county and its residents. On the positive side, it means increased funding for local governments and districts.

This means, for example, that Sheridan County can proceed with $8.24 million in capital projects this year, that local fire districts can continue maintaining facilities and equipment and that Sheridan County Weed and Pest can continue fighting its battle against the spread of invasive species Medusahead and Ventenata in the county.

But at the same time, Fall acknowledged the increased tax burden many Sheridan County residents, including the elderly, were experiencing.

He noted the Wyoming Legislature has been spending its interim session discussing ways to slow the yearly property tax increase, either through a cap on how much taxes can increase from year to year or through the implementation of an acquisition-based property tax system.

If these discussions move forward, it might prevent another large-scale value jump like the one the county saw this year, which could be good news for county residents, Fall said.

“This year, the valuation went up 21% and people don’t want to see that kind of jump, for obvious reasons,” Fall said. “So I think it will be interesting to see where the discussion goes from here. I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on it.”

This story was published on August 4, 2022.

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