CASPER, Wyo. — Election season is underway and Oil City News has sent a list of questions to each candidate seeking office in Natrona County who has filed to run in the primary election in August.
These questions are designed to give our readers a better understanding of the people behind the names on the ballot. Below, get to know Matt Keating, who is seeking reelection to serve another term as Natrona County Assessor:
1. Who are you? (Name, where you’re from, employment, hobbies, etc.)
I am Matt Keating, I was born in Wyoming, raised in Casper since I was 4 years old. I am married and my wife and I have raised 8 children. I served 25 years on the fire department and 14 years as a Natrona County Commissioner. I also worked in the oil field for 7 years. I am currently the Natrona Assessor. The State Board Vice Chair testified that the previous administration had misused the process enough that the numbers were doctored. I took over an office that had been completely neglected and have worked to bring this office back into compliance.
2. Why have you decide to run for office and what do you hope to accomplish should you be elected?
I am running for a second term because there is still a lot of work to do. Everyone is feeling the effects of inflation. While houses across Wyoming are selling for record prices, I have been advocating that the tax mill can and should be adjusted down to lower the property tax. I testified before the Joint Revenue Committee a few days ago advocating for a 3% tax cap increase and acquisition values (you should pay tax based on what you paid for the property). I pushed for property tax relief and had the information printed on the back of the 47,000 Notice of Values this office mailed. This program has helped the citizens across Wyoming who are on fixed incomes which paid up to $656 of their tax bill.
3. How do you plan on accomplishing your goals?
I have worked very hard the last three years bringing this office back in line with state statute and inside the parameters required by the State Board of Equalization. All members of the State Board signed a letter saying that “they will trumpet to all concerned my herculean efforts to bring this office back into compliance.” I have twice as many staff permanently certified than the previous administration, and that number will soon double, which has never happened before in Natrona County.
4. What experience do you have that qualifies you for the office you are seeking?
I have proven myself by turning this office around. I am permanently certified by the Department of Revenue and work very closely with them. I have served 14 years as a County Commissioner understanding county agencies and budgets.
5. Do you feel you could be a good steward with taxpayer dollars? Why or why not?
I have been a good steward with the taxpayer dollars, advocating that although house values are up in Natrona County and across Wyoming, I have done three things: 1. I have advocated that the tax rates come down. 2. I have testified before our legislators with solutions that will stabilize our tax bills and slow their increase. 3. I have testified and written the governor asking for a mechanism that helps the elderly on fixed incomes.
6. On the issue of transparency, where do you stand on ensuring all public business is conducted openly and in a manner that encourages public attendance?
I have been very transparent. I have had thousands of conversations with taxpayers in my office at my desk. I have worked to provide all the information to the public that has been requested. My staff and I worked to improve the Natrona County web page to help educate the taxpayer on how this mass appraisal system works.
7. How have you made your office or board more transparent and open with the public?
I have been open and honest with everyone that I have dealt with. The State Board testified that the previous administration had “doctored the number,” hence no Appeals! My honesty and integrity has cost me friends and family. It is not possible to be non-transparent and work this closely with the taxpayer, the Commissioners, the Department of Revenue, the State Board of Equalization and the other 22 Assessor’s offices.
8. If you were presiding over a meeting and a topic was being discussed that you didn’t fully understand, would you ask for a more detailed explanation during the meeting or would you seek the information after the meeting?
I have no problem asking a question to clarify anything to ensure that I fully understand what has been said during a meeting.
9. Should you be elected, or reelected, do you plan on seeking any major policy changes in your
chosen office? If yes, what would those changes be? If no, why not?
This system needs legislation to improve this process that is currently in place across the state. I have been involved and will continue to be involved moving forward. We need a 3% cap on tax Cap and Acquisitions values. We need a mechanism to help the elderly on fixed incomes.
10. Is there anything the above questions didn’t ask that you would like to comment on?
There is no percent change in Wyoming, a 3% cap would stop these large changes in our tax bills. Acquisition values, paying taxes on what you paid for the property would stop the out-of-state market influencing and inflating your tax bill. I am advocating for these changes. I have written our governor, I have testified a number of times before our legislators and I will continue to work to ensure we have fair assessments in Natrona County.
NOTE: All primary candidates who filed to run for office in Natrona County were sent questionnaires at the same time and Oil City News will publish responses in the order they are received. Candidate responses are only edited for clarity and style.
If you are a candidate and did not see the questionnaire in your inbox, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Oil City News sent questionnaires to Natrona County candidates running in the primary for municipal, county office or a seat in the Wyoming Legislature based on email addresses shared by the Natrona County Clerk’s Office; if you would prefer the questionnaire sent to a different address, please let us know.