County's assessed value $906M, down about 11 percent from last fiscal year

Jun 12, 2013 By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

Revised numbers show Fremont County's assessed value for the upcoming fiscal year is lower than expected and down from last year. Tax revenue for the county will suffer as a result, complicating budget discussions.

The figure for some municipalities is up over last year's, however, indicating they should see more income in fiscal year 2014.

At $906 million, the preliminary assessed valuation for fiscal year 2014 from County Assessor Tara Berg is down 5 percent from a March estimate and almost 11 percent lower than last year's figure.

The assessed value is based on the worth of property within a taxing district's territory.

Berg announced the number at a June 4 meeting with the Fremont County Commission. The Wyoming State Board of Equalization still must finalize the assessor's figure.

"I wasn't shocked," she said. "We were looking at those oil and gas projections. Oil is up; gas is way down."

Property taxes typically make up 35 percent of the county's revenues, which supply the general fund and fair, museums, library system and county recreation funds. The county can levy a total of 12 mills on the total valuation of the county.

Each mill produces .001 times the value of property within a territory. A full twelve mills on the county's valuation for next year would yield almost $10.9 million, down from the $12.2 million last year's figure generated.

Despite the countywide trend, the assessed value of property within municipalities rose almost 1.5 percent over last year to $155 million. Lander's worth rose by about 1 percent to $62.7 million.

Riverton's and Pavillion's valuations also went up, but Hudson's, Dubois's and Shoshoni's fell.

The assessed value of school districts shows how property values around Lander increased the most, while they fell almost everywhere else in the county, according to the assessor's preliminary numbers. Areas near Shoshoni, which include natural gas industry facilities, suffered the most.

The value of real property in Fremont County School District 1 around Lander increased 9 percent from last year to $306 million, and District 38's around Arapahoe climbed about 1 percent to $4.1 million.

The hardest hit was District 24 around Shoshoni, which lost 31 percent of its valuation, and is now worth $257 million.

Berg said the value of the Burlington Resources Oil & Gas Company natural gas plant near Lost Cabin suffered because the commodity's price recently fell.

"That's where your biggest decrease was in the natural gas," Berg said.

All the others saw a smaller loss, such as District 25 around Riverton. Its value dropped 2 percent to $147 million.

School districts' incomes are not based directly on their assessed valuation, but their recreation districts' revenues are.

The county fire, solid waste and school district recreation boards are special districts and receive property taxes directly from their own levies outside of the county's 12 mills. Most of their territories do not coincide completely with the county's, so their assessed values are different as well.

The solid waste district's territory is the same as the county's, so its assessed value and property tax revenue will fall by the same proportions.

Of the special districts, county fire saw a large drop. Its valuation fell 15 percent to $660 million, meaning its revenue will fall proportionally as well.

The governing boards of the taxing entities will use the assessor's numbers to project revenue for their budgeting processes.

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