Sheila Hogan

Montanans have some serious questions for Governor Greg Gianforte, and for good reason. A bombshell report from MTN News revealed that while the rest of us throughout the state of Montana are paying record-high property taxes, Gianforte is paying less than his neighbors on his privately owned mansions in both Bozeman and Helena.

MTN examined public tax documents of “more than 40 homes” surrounding Gianforte’s mansion (618 Madison Avenue) in Helena, and found that “all but a few saw sizable increases, while the Governor's property decreased by seven percent.”

That’s right. Gianforte gave himself a property tax cut last year, while all of his neighbors got tax hikes. This leaves many of us scratching our heads: how did our governor—the one Montanan who ultimately controls Montana’s property tax rates—get a property tax cut?

According to an analysis of public property tax records, a home just south of Gianforte’s Helena mansion got a 62% property tax hike. His next-door neighbor got a 25% increase. But Gianforte got a 7% tax cut!

Clearly, there are more questions than answers at this point.

And let’s not forget about Gianforte’s other mansion in Bozeman. MTN News also reports Gianforte’s Bozeman mansion saw an increase in property taxes by about 19% from 2022 thanks to an agricultural exemption. That pales in comparison to his neighbors, Deborah and Tony Newville, who saw a staggering 70% increase in their taxes.

C’mon, Governor. You’re not a farmer. You’re not a rancher. As your neighbor says, you’re a “land developer and speculator who’s using that ag exemption improperly to not pay taxes.”

It’s now time for reporters to demand answers from Gianforte: Governor, how do you explain your personal tax cut on your Helena mansion? How do you justify your ag exemption in Bozeman?

Knowing Gianforte, he’ll decline to answer the question or will trail off into his usually scripted word salad. But Montanans deserve transparency. Maybe we should just take him at his word when he said, “The fairest tax is the one you pay and I don’t.” Straight from the horse’s mouth.

Sheila Hogan is the director of the Montana Democratic Party.