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Reports on Wyoming State Government Activity

Gov. Gordon signs four property tax bills into law, vetoes another

An elderly woman wearing earth tones walks toward her Cheyenne home.
David Dudley
Wyoming Public Media
Patricia "Trish" Meares in front of her home near downtown Cheyenne.

Last week Gov. Mark Gordon inked four bills that will give property tax relief to thousands of Wyomingites. Then he vetoed another, which could mean that lawmakers will return to Cheyenne for a special session.

One of the bills that he signed into law, House Bill 3, will give homeowners 65 and older a 50 percent tax exemption of a property’s value. That’s as long as they've paid property taxes in the state for 25 years or more.

Patricia Meares is one of those who may benefit from the bill. She stood before her home near downtown Cheyenne on a chilly Monday afternoon remembering a time that was simpler—and more affordable.

"My husband and I bought this house for $24,000 in 1974," she said. "Today, homes in the area sell for $350,000 and higher."

A widow living on a pension, she's felt the pinch as her property taxes spiked during the past three years. Because her expenses keep rising, but her income remains fixed, she's had to make do.

"When things go up, the first thing you give up is entertainment," she said. "Then it's gas for the car. Then it's medication. Then it's food…"

The tax relief will help with more than money. It will also help her continue to live independently.

"And then, to look at going into an assisted living place, or an adult living place," said Meares. "I mean, those places are so expensive you can't afford them."

While that bill passed, and has been signed, Gov. Gordon vetoed Senate File 54. That bill would’ve cut 25 percent off assessed home values up to $2 million. Gordon said the exemption was not targeted enough.

"It represented 'a socialistic type of wealth transfer, mostly from the energy sector, to Wyoming homeowners,'" Gordon wrote in the letter. "The backfill of lost local tax revenue to local school districts, cities, towns, counties and special districts would likely cost the state more than $220 million for the biennium."

In a letter signed by Senate President Ogden Driskill (R, Devils Tower) and House of Representatives Speaker Albert Sommers (R, Pinedale), they said the veto of Senate File 54 could "render any further legislative action on property tax relief in 2024 impossible to implement," according to the Department of Revenue. "This is because county assessors must include notification of property tax exemptions on the 2024 assessment schedule which must be mailed no later than the fourth Monday in April."

The Department of Revenue later said that property owners may be notified of exemptions in their September bill.

Lawmakers are weighing a special session to fight the veto.

"We believe it is likely still worthwhile to consider a special legislative session to enact meaningful property tax relief this year," they wrote in the letter to lawmakers.

They may vote on the matter as early as this Friday.

Editors note: An earlier version of this story said that "property tax legislation may be in jeopardy" because of Gov. Gordon's veto of Senate File 54. But the veto of SF 54 will not impact the other bills signed by Gordon. We have since corrected the error.

This reporting was made possible by a grant from the Corporation For Public Broadcasting, supporting state government coverage in the state. Wyoming Public Media and Jackson Hole Community Radio are partnering to cover state issues both on air and online.

David Dudley is an award-winning journalist who has written for The Guardian, The Christian Science Monitor, High Country News, WyoFile, and the Wyoming Truth, among many others. David was a Guggenheim Crime in America Fellow at John Jay College from 2020-2023. During the past 10 years, David has covered city and state government, business, economics and public safety beats for various publications. He lives in Cheyenne with his family.
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