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Lewis and Clark County Commissioner Jim McCormick's tax bill will grow by hundreds of dollars after his residential property value increased by 12%, according to information provided with his permission. 

And he is not the only one feeling the sting. 

On average, Lewis and Clark County's residential property values increased by 7.3% following the Montana Department of Revenue's latest biennial valuation.

According to Sanjay Talwani, public information officer at the department of revenue, that valuation was completed a few months ago and is primarily determined by market value as of Jan. 1, 2018. 

Market value is determined by "what a well-informed buyer and seller would determine as fair," he said. This could be influenced by any additions made to homes during the two-year period and sales of similar properties in the area. 

Talwani said Helena's housing market has historically had slow and steady growth. While the 7.3% increase in Lewis and Clark County may seem high, it is much lower than the 19% average increase for residential property in Gallatin County. 

The Lewis and Clark County commission last week approved the county's annual tax levy in mills for fiscal year 2020, which started July 1 and ends on June 30, 2020. 

One mill is equal to approximately $1.35 for a $100,000 home and $2.70 for a $200,000 home, the the number of mills levied depends on where the property is located. 

While those with increasing property values can probably expect to pay more in taxes, county finance director Nancy Everson said Helena residents will pay about $2.61 less if their home value stayed the same. 

In some districts, the number of mills levied will be cut in half. For example, Everson noted that the mosquito districts in the Helena Valley and Craig built up enough cash reserves to operate on half the mills for at least the following year, and Lincoln should also see a $10 decrease in their solid waste district taxes this year.

This year's property taxes will also be affected by the $6.5 million general bond voters approved in 2016 to renovate the Lewis and Clark County Detention Center, as well as the 15-year, $4 million annual levy voters approved in 2017 to fund its operation.

Lewis and Clark County has gained $475,781 worth of newly taxable property as a result of recent growth. 

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