February 18 Missoula City Councilman Mike Nugent posted that capping residential property taxes would begin a nuclear winter on services enjoyed by Montana families and usher in tax policy based on inequities.
Nugent’s concern is that the offered solution is a Constitutional Amendment therefore hard for the legislature to change. The last legislature overturned I-161, aka The Sportsman’s Initiative passed in 2010 with 188,000 “yes” votes. I-161 abolished outfitter set aside licenses.
The 2021 legislature amended it to give licenses to all who applied to use an outfitter. Mike, the legislature has proven they cannot be trusted to honor a citizens’ initiative. A constitutional amendment is the only real option. CI-121 allows the legislature to continue to define “residential property” and “significant upgrades.” We may live to regret that much latitude.
Councilman Nugent admits our tax system is broken and overly reliant on residential property tax, then argues the fix is to not fix it. He prefers circuit breakers (aka inequities) to give tax breaks to poor people in certain percentages of poverty level. Those that are $1 outside of those parameters will suffer double digit tax increases every year.
His primary arguments are 1) Realtors will have fewer listings if people are not selling their homes to avoid a tax foreclosure 2) that it is wrong to tax similar properties at different rates, ie one at $1000 and the other at $3000, so we should tax both at $3000 3) We should raise taxes on poor people’s homes to finance affordable public housing for the same poor people.
Nugget is a realtor and his arguments are verbatim those of the Realtors Assn. Verbatim. All of their claims have been disproven, but they never tire of repeating them.
Sen. Brad Molnar, Republican