Community

# Taxes at Trego School

School taxation is not a simple subject.  Part of the school taxes go to Helena, and are returned, not dollar for dollar, but apportioned according to school enrollment.  Another part of taxes are assessed and go from the county revenues into the school accounts.  Each portion has minimum and maximum levels.  It isn’t hard math, but it is a challenge to keep things straight.

At Trego, the board needs to begin funding a building reserve fund.  That means adding a permissive levy to raise \$5,232.32 – about 2.71 mills.  The state allows us a “District Major Maintenance Amount” with a maximum of \$16,500 – and to get to that maximum, we have to levy \$5,232.32 – 2.71 mills.  The school was built over 50 years ago, and more maintenance planning and effort is becoming necessary.  Folks give some simple explanations – “that will be about three dollars on a 100,000 assessment” which are simplified, easy to understand, and wrong.

Where to find information:

• MT Revenue instructs us on how to calculate taxes from mills – not a particularly challenging math exercise, but worth using so you can understand how each additional levy affects your tax bill.  As we look at the numbers, we’ll see that, in Trego, where nearly half the taxable value is “Centrally Assessed” we need a bit more understanding.
• MT Office of Public Instruction provides spreadsheets of the budget files for each school district in the state.  They’re in pdf format, but provide a lot of information – and are only slightly confusing.
• State Information Technologies Services Division provides information that shows how each district is valued – for example, as you look at the tables below, you will notice that Market Value and Taxable value vary significantly.

If you contrast Trego, District 53, with Fortine, District 14, you will note that Fortine shows a market value of  \$119,644,515 while Trego shows \$114,462,957.  Still, the taxable value leans in the opposite direction: Fortine 1,5436,104 vs Trego at 1,931,429.  The difference is in the category shown as “Centrally Assessed.”  Taxable value of Centrally Assessed” property is about 3% of market value, while taxable value of “Real Property” is slightly over 1% of market value.

Since centrally assessed property in the Trego School District will primarily be railroad property, and since it represents a significant proportion of the total taxable value (\$932,774/\$1,931,429 = 48.3%) taxpayers in Trego School District can thank the railroad for taking a significant portion of the tax burden.

Lincoln County

Fortine Elementary District 14

Eureka Elementary, District 13

Trego Elementary School District 53