County valuation drops 22 percent

by nathan oster

Big Horn County’s assessed valuation, which is a measure of the value of all properties in the county, has plummeted by 22 percent and now sits at its lowest level in 10 years, according to figures released by Assessor Gina Anderson.

The valuation this year is $215.154 million, a decline of $64.1 million from the 2015 valuation of $279.2 million. The last time the county’s valuation was below $215.1 million was in 2006, when it came in at $206.6 million. It rose to $224 million in 2007 and has been above that every year since, topping out at $307.7 million in 2012.

“(The decline) ended up being more than I thought it would be,” said Anderson.

Big Horn County’s state assessed value fell to $108.4 million from $174.4 million in 2015, a decline of about $66 million. Most of it came in the oil category, which lost more than half of its value, falling to $52.2 million from a 2015 figure of $110.3 million.

While it was the largest of the decliners, the oil valuation was hardly alone in the energy industry in taking a hit. The natural gas valuation declined from $5.2 million to $2.8 million between 2015 and 2016. In bentonite, the decline was from $39.9 million to $33.1 million over the same time frame.

Other state-assessed valuation declines between 2015 and 2016 occurred among gas pipeline companies ($166,281, down from $174,368), municipal electrics ($42,895, down from $52,115), major telecommunications companies ($70,640, down from $83,509), cable and satellite companies ($106,119, down from $153,537), reseller telecommunications companies ($56,269, down from $74,309) and sand and gravel ($139,017, down from $225,729).

Gains were seen over the same time period for the railroad ($10.1 million, up from $8.8 million); liquid pipeline companies ($415,797, up from $410,313), cellular telecommunications companies ($162,578, up from $112,615) and rural telephone companies ($848,636, up from $728,027).

Special taxing districts across the county have been impacted the most by the drop in valuation. Almost across the board, they’re getting less in tax revenue this year than they did last year.

Among school districts, No. 3 took the sharpest hit, with a decline of $33.3 million to $80.7 million, which remains tops in the county. District No. 1 dropped $18.9 million to $59.2 million. District No. 4 fell $6.5 million to $34.6 million. District No. 2 lost $4.6 million to $40.3 million.

Among health-related districts, the North Big Horn Hospital and North Big Horn Senior Citizens each saw a valuation decrease of $59.6 million, putting them at $127.8 million for 2016. The South Big Horn Hospital and South Big Horn Senior Citizens each lost $4.5 million, which put their total valuation at $86.6 million.

Park County Fire District No. 1 saw a $6,372 increase in valuation ($346,173), while Fire District No. 4 (Otto-Burlington-Emblem) also showed an increase, which came in at $540,032, pushing the total to $14.4 million.

Fire District No. 1 saw a $57.3 million decline, Fire District No. 2 a $3.4 million decline and Fire District No. 3 a $3.3 million decline.

Among cemetery districts, Burlington (plus $286,000) and Emblem ($107,970) saw increased valuations, while the others went down, ranging from a low of $373,716 for the South Central Cemetery District to a high of $46.5 million for the Byron Cemetery District.

All other special districts also experienced valuation declines, including the two conservation and solid waste districts.

The towns came out much better overall than the special districts, with only two, Byron and Frannie, experiencing valuation decreases between 2015 and 2016. Byron’s fell by $26,479 to come in at $2.38 million; Frannie’s fell by $16,857 to come in at $539,663.

Every other town experienced valuation increases. Greybull’s rose by the most, climbing $341,093 to $9.758 million. Next came Basin, which saw its valuation rise $190,016 to $6.96 million, followed by Cowley, which grew by $142,989 to come in at $4.4 million. Lovell continues to have the highest valuation in the county, with a 2016 figure of $11.352 million, an increase of $96,372.

Other town valuations are as follows: Burlington, $79,670; Deaver, $889,405; and Manderson, $574,172. In each, the total valuation increased.

The total local value in the county came in at $106.6 million, which when combined with the state-assessed valuation of $108.4 million, accounts for the county’s total valuation figure of $215.154 million.

Anderson said she doesn’t see the trend reversing anytime soon.

“Certainly not for next year,” she said. “From talking to the other assessors around the state, the quarter of this year was already down compared to last year. I can’t imagine things are going to turn around that quickly.”

Anderson said the estimated oil and gas taxable value for the first quarter of 2016 shows a decrease of $6.38 million from 2015.