Due to the downturn of the oil and gas industry, Park County’s total property valuation is estimated to have dropped from $706.2 million to $629 million in 2021.
Local valuations for business and residential property increased by $24.5 million, but since these properties are taxed at a much lower rate they make a much smaller impact.
Oil and gas is taxed at 100% of market value in Wyoming, while residential property is at 9.5%. The recent real estate boom was not enough to counter the lost oil and gas revenue.
Oil and gas still made up less than 34% of total valuation. Aside from 2017, it was the lowest valuation the county has experienced in 15 years.
As bleak as this downturn may seem, it’s actually a continuation of a decade-long trend of dwindling mineral royalties in Park County and Wyoming. Since 2016 oil and gas valuation has not made up more than a 36% portion of revenue in Park County.
“In the end, we don’t want to depend on mineral revenue the rest of our lives,” county assessor Pat Meyer said.
He said he is optimistic that the next few years will bring a brighter outlook, and pointed out gas prices have already returned to more than $3 per gallon at the pumps for unleaded gas.
In a presentation he made to Northwest College in late 2020, he estimated that there would have to be 3,509 more $300,000 homes or 4,484 more $215,500 homes built to balance the decline of oil and gas revenue at current levels.
Because of the decrease in valuation, a number of critical entities like schools, fire departments, hospitals and cemeteries received as much as 40% less in funds in regards to their respective mill allotment this year. Local K-12 schools receive about 70% of total valuation through 43 mills, while Park County government only gets 12 mills, and each fire district gets three.
Northwest College, for instance, which receives four mills with a board option for five, will get about $77,000 less in funding this year.