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County sets tax levies; Riverton's up slightly

Aug 6, 2013 By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

Most Fremont County property owners likely will see a small rise in their tax rates this year after commissioners approved a package of mill levies Monday. A few areas, however, will see lower rates.

Levies rose by .218 mills countywide. Riverton residents will be levied a total of 78.133 mills, up from 77.74 mills last year.

Much of the difference for the Rendezvous City came from a .25 mill increase in Fremont County School District 25 for the Board of Cooperative Education Services.

Entities that collect property taxes include county and municipal governments, school districts, fire districts and special districts such as conservation districts and cemetery districts.

An entity collects .001 of the value of a property for each mill it levies. For example, if the total levy on a $100,000 property was 10 mills, the owner would pay $1,000. If a city levies 5 mills and the total assessed value of property within the municipality was $10 million, the city would receive $50,000 from property taxes.

School districts all levy 31 mills to cover the majority of their budgets. They can tax further to pay back bonds they issued.

District 1

The rate District 1 in Lander could levy to repay bonds was the largest issue raised at a public meeting about property tax rates.

Commissioners decided to give District 1 a lower levy for bonds than what the school board requested.

This year, District 1's board asked for a 1.5 mill bond levy. Fremont County Treasurer Scott Harnsberger recommended the commission approve a 1.31 mill bond levy for the Lander schools.

District 1's assistant

superintendent of finance administration Kirk Schmidt said the difference would be about $50,000.

The school district sometimes comes up short, and Schmidt said he wanted to err on the safe side by raising more revenue than might be necessary. He pointed out that if there were money left over, it only could be used to pay back the bonds and eventually the school district could pay its debts off earlier than planned, saving taxpayers money.

Harnsberger said he calculated his figure based on what would be owed and the assessed valuation of the school district.

Schmidt said the school board's decision request should be honored because members are elected officials and should be in charge of the schools.

"It's a question of philosophy," Schmidt said. "Are you going to run the school board?"

Commissioner Travis Becker said he was concerned about the school board accumulating more and more money in its fund to buy back bonds, and he did not want to tax residents more than necessary.

Commissioner Stephanie Kessler moved to change District 1's bond levy to 1.5 mills. No one seconded the motion, and it failed.

Other entities

The Fremont County Weed and Pest District's levies increased from 1.86 mills to 2 mills.

District supervisor Lars Baker said the agency will end up with about the same amount of money, but he wanted the rate increased because the county's assessed value decreased.

Residents in District 6 will see a lower tax rate this year because it paid back its bonds and will not have a bond levy. Last year, the Wind River school district levied 6.37 mills for bonds.

District 14 had its levy to pay back bonds decrease from about 6 mills to 5.145 mills.

Property owners in the Wyoming Indian school district will see their taxes decrease accordingly.

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