Lincoln County offers opportunities to extract data in ways the folks who run things haven’t planned. For example, we have three county commissioners, elected at large, and representing the areas roughly in the county’s three high school districts.
Census data can be extracted by school district – so we know the population of each high school district. We’re still using the 2010 Census, but should be able to update soon. Likewise, on a state website, we can find the 2020 market value and taxable value for each high school district. Since the taxable value relates directly to county taxation, it isn’t hard to make a chart showing how much residents of each school district pay for county government.
|Population||Market Value||Taxable Value||Taxable Value/ person|
|Troy||3,583||$ 509,934,526||$ 6,912,824||$1,940.17|
Intriguing – Troy residents provide taxes to Lincoln County at about the same rate as the county average. North County folks provide about 43% more taxes per capita than the county average, and Libby folks per capita county taxes is approximately 28% lower than the county average.
The area represented by the Lincoln County High School district has 31.8% of the county’s population, and provides 45.5% of the tax dollars that fund county government. Libby, where most of the county government occurs, has 50% of the county’s population, and provides 36.1% of the taxes that fund county government.
I guess it’s a question suitable for debate – is it better to receive more government than you pay for, or is it better not to receive as much government as you pay for?
When Lincoln County was created, it made sense – virtually all of the county drained into the Kootenai River, and the county was connected by river, rail and road. With Libby Dam and Lake Koocanusa, the county was split in two. On the other hand, the numbers suggest that secession might be a fiscally responsible alternative.
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After the article on searching Lincoln County data, the question came in: “What if North Lincoln County was its own county?” The answer is available, but it takes the sort of personality that enjoys digging through data. Here’s a few facts that would describe the thought experiment that would be county 57. County 57, sharing boundaries with the Lincoln County High School District, would rank 31st in population…
There’s a long-term question of whether North Lincoln County gets fairly treated in county services. Back when the county was created in 1909, it made sense – everything drained into the Kootenai (except for Stryker, and driving 93 toward Kalispell makes it easy to see how that mistake was made.) Sixty years later, Libby Dam removed the towns along the Kootenai that were the middle of the county. …