Like many, retired Huson couple feels sting of rising property taxes
HUSON (KPAX) - Guy Bennett is a fourth-generation Montanan, a veteran of the United States Army and a cat person.
As a property owner, he’s felt the full blow of Montana’s rise in property taxes.
Bennett built his house in Huson in 1994, after his father gave Bennett an acre of his own land.
Bennett's 2023 property taxes have almost doubled from last year. The plot of land alone, which Bennett purchased for $7,000, has risen in market value by $80,000.
Bennett says he expects an increase in property taxes every year, but recently, the raises have been shocking. His property tax value is estimated at $3,331 this year, up from $2,200 last year.
While he is retired and receives a pension from the military, the increase caused him to raise his monthly budget by $200.
“That’s a pretty big chunk coming out of your social security and my military pension,” Bennett says.
More than the raise in taxes, Bennett says he’s frustrated that the survey of his land was inaccurate.
His house was valued at $323,400, despite keeping it at $194,000 for both 2021 and 2022. The value, as Bennet understands, was assessed from an aerial image, where the state saw several foundational structures and a basement.
The property has a few lean-to’s, but none with foundation, and the only resemblance to a basement is their crawl space under the house.
Bennett wrote to the state to fix their mistakes, “So that should adjust it down a little bit, I think, but I don’t know."
A rise in property value may be seen as a blessing to those who intend to sell, but for owners like Bennett and his wife, it’s only stressful.
“What could I get if I sold it? Well, I could probably get more than this out of it, I don’t know. But my intent is to be buried here. I have no intent of selling it, so why do I have to play into the markets?" he says.
Since receiving his appraisal in the mail, Bennett has reached out to his two representatives from Missoula, Tom France and Shane Morigeau.
Bennett says he’s also frustrated with the lack of warning from the legislature, and the possibility of a rebate for his 2021 taxes does little to ease his mind.
“That rebate is probably going to roll into this year’s property taxes, so why did you even bother giving me a rebate at all?” he says.
In Huson, a rural community 30 miles outside Missoula, the residents rarely reap the benefits of the services that property taxes pay for, according to Bennett.
He says they don’t see much law enforcement coverage, they only have snow plows on school days, and it’s hard to take advantage of the social programs in Missoula when Bennett rarely visits the city.
“Our services for what we’re paying, I don’t know what we’re paying for. We got a mill levy, I’m paying for the new library. I will never go into that library," he says.