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Missoula County delays billing on mobile homes, personal property; not property taxes

Missoula County commissioners this week agreed to delay billing on mobile homes and personal property until later this summer, pushing the revenue it would have netted into the next fiscal year.

The move represents the county’s effort to show sensitivity during the crisis as workers and businesses struggle from the pandemic’s economic impacts.

“There will not be a significant burden placed on taxing jurisdictions to cover this delay in billing, which is the reason we’re contemplating it,” said Commissioner Dave Strohmaier. “It’s to recognize that folks are in a tight spot right now.”

Commissioners will direct Tyler Gernant, the county’s clerk, recorder and treasurer, to delay the processing and mailing of certain bills until July. At that time, commissioners will take a second look at the local economy and the impacts of the virus.

“It looked like this would have a relatively benign effect and we can handle it for a couple months,” Commissioner Josh Slotnick said of the billing delay. “This cold help folks living in mobile homes and businesses that would otherwise pay a considerable chunk out.”

The county this week also eliminated the user fees charged to citizens who pay for certain county services by credit card, including property taxes. That directive will expire on June 30 and will likely cost the county around $45,000 in revenue.

Postponing the billing on mobile homes and personal property until July delays the collection of roughly $900,000, according to the county’s chief financial officer.

Thursday’s decisions to postpone the payments doesn’t extend to real property taxes, which are due by the stated deadline.

“We recognize full well it would take an action on the part of either the Legislature or governor, through his emergency powers, to do anything relative to real property taxes,” said Strohmaier. “There are significant ramifications to that unless the state provides mitigation to local government, because we’re so heavily reliant on real property taxes.”

Slotnick agreed, saying the county needs the revenue property taxes generate to deliver most services.

“It’s as far as we can go,” he said. “It’s the end of our jurisdiction, so to speak, and it’s also at the end of what we can financially absorb in terms of delaying payments and still be able to provide the services our economy and social well being depend upon.”