Assessor Matt Keating meets with the Natrona County Commission 4/5/22 (Gregory Hirst, Oil City)

CASPER, Wyo. — Natrona County property tax valuation notices will be issued by the assessor’s office Wednesday, May 4, and the unflagging seller’s market means many taxpayers should prepare to see their assessments go up.

“We’re open and ready to have the conversation to show them how it was that we got to their value,” Natrona County assessor Matt Keating told Oil City on Tuesday.

Assessed values of agricultural, personal and commercial properties “are up about 15% across the board,” Keating said, “and that’s based off of sales.”

Two factors determine a final property tax assessment. One is the cost to replace the home new. The other is the value of the land the home sits upon. That is determined by all valid sales in the same Land Economic Area. (LEAs are similar to neighborhoods, but not necessarily connected geographically.)

It is a well-known fact by now, Keating said, that it has been a seller’s market in Natrona County over the past several years. 

Keating and various real estate agents agree that many of those buyers are coming from out of state. They are coming to work remotely, escape urban areas, and seek friendlier tax and political climates, as well as to retire in the Mountain West. Many are snapping up properties sight-unseen, officials said. 

Real Estate Leaders Realtor Andrew Blonigan estimated Tuesday that the average sale price of a single-family home has gone up 25–30% in the last year.

Keating said his own home’s value has increased from $275,000 to $315,000 over the last year.

“I think it would sell for $315 [thousand] in this market all day long,” he said.

The Wyoming State Board of Equalization requires a property’s assessed value track statistically with all valid market sales in that property’s LEA.

For several years before Keating took over in 2019, Natrona County’s valuations were out of statistical compliance with the state mandate, and many were undervalued. Keating’s admittedly imperfect initial overhaul of the system earned him the approval of the state BOE, but also resulted in sticker-shock for many residents.

The county commission sympathized with many of the hundreds, perhaps thousands of protest cases they ultimately heard, but were limited in the actions they could take. They can only uphold an assessment or remand the decision back; they can’t set a value.

Taxpayers have until June 3 at 5 p.m. to file a formal protest. Because Wyoming is a non-disclosure state, it is the only time they can legally review the sales used to determine the land value, Keating said.

“Our doors are always open for taxpayers to come in and talk about their valuation, but that 30-day window is the only one to file a formal appeal if they decide to do that,” he said.

In 2022, the Wyoming Legislature renewed some property tax relief and deferment programs for honorably discharged veterans and five-year Wyoming residents who meet certain income requirements. 

The deadlines to apply begin at the end of May. More information can be found here, and applications are initially processed by county offices.

Assessments can also be viewed online beginning May 4.