County valuation climbing toward $1 billion again; increase predicted

Mar 5, 2014 By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

Officials expect Fremont County's assessed value to rise by $24 million, or 2.6 percent, for fiscal year 2015 to $930 million.

The increase should spell a rise in property tax income for the county, municipalities and special districts.

If the estimate is correct, it would mark a turnaround the current fiscal year for which the assessed value dropped 11 percent to $906 million.

Fremont County Assessor Tara Berg and Fremont County Treasurer Scott Harnsberger presented the figures in a report to county commissioners March 4 ahead of the board's budget discussions this spring.

Assessed value numbers are finalized in June.

"We anticipate a $27 million increase in natural gas will be offset by a $23 million decrease in oil," Berg and Harnsberger stated in their report. "This net $5 million increase (after rounding) combines with a small upward trend in assessed value of all locally assessed property."

Harnsberger said property tax revenue for the county should increase $180,000 in the coming fiscal year.

Assessed value is the combined worth of real estate and minerals produced in the county. Property taxes are levied on those assets to generate revenue for local governments and special districts.

Fiscal years run from July 1 to June 30 and are named for the years in which they end.

The assessed value of oil production was estimated to be $296 million for the coming fiscal year, and that of gas production should be $200 million, according to the report. Combined, they account for 55 percent of the county's assessed value.

A report from Berg and Harnsberger shows the price of oil increased, but its production decreased, resulting in value of oil production decreasing from $319 million in the current fiscal year to the $296 projected in the coming one.

Flat production but increased prices should drive up the assessed value of natural gas production in the county from $172 million in the current fiscal year to the $200 million in the upcoming year, according to the document.

Officials predicted the value of other property would change as well. The value of agricultural land would rise by 34 percent in the coming assessed valuation, according to the report.

For other land, personal property and industrial property the assessed value would rise by 3 percent to 5 percent.

"Those are going to see a pretty significant increase with the value of hay," Berg said.

Looking ahead, Berg and Harnsberger predicted the county's assessed value in fiscal 2016 would rise $70 million or 7.5 percent to $1 billion. It would climb by about 4 percent each of the next three years to $1.042 billion, $1.078 billion and $1.17 billion, they estimated.

Projections for the upcoming fiscal year and the future were based on estimates the treasurer's office developed based on historical information, the Wyoming State Government Revenue Forecast, or CREG report, and preliminary taxable values from the state Department of Revenue.

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