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How is my Conservation District Funded?

Harold Blattie, from the Montana Association of Counties, recently pointed out that our website had incorrect information about the way districts were funded. We had previously stated that CDs could levy up to 1.5 mills. However, as Harold pointed out, that limit was changed to floating mills in 2001.

Here is Harold’s explanation of how district funding is calculated now:

“Prior to 2001, Conservation Districts were limited to levying 1.5 mills on the taxable value of the real property within the district. The 2001 Legislature removed that specific mill limit and made the conservation district levy ”subject to 15-10-420” which allows the number of mills to float so that the district receives the same dollar amount as the prior year, plus a modest amount of allowed growth, plus the revenue generated by newly taxable value. The Department of Revenue annually certifies the taxable value of the district as well as the value of new property. If you do not receive it directly from DOR, contact your local Clerk and Recorder. Those amounts are critical in determining the allowable levy each year. A spreadsheet has been developed to assist in that calculation and is available on the MACo website at:

To begin the calculation for any given year, you need to know the maximum allowed in the prior year. That dollar amount is entered into Line 1 of the form. Next the certified taxable value is entered into line (5). Finally, the value of newly taxable property is entered into Line (5)(c) as a negative number.

The form will then tell you the maximum amount that can be levied that year in Line (7) in mills and in Line (8) as dollars.

The supervisors then need to determine whether to levy the maximum allowed or a lesser amount. If the decision is to levy a lesser amount, that authority carries forward to the following year and beyond.”

Hope that helps, and thank you to Harold for correcting us!

Kate is the Communications and Technology Manager for Soil & Water Conservation Districts of Montana. She manages the website, puts out The Montana Conservationist every other week, and assists conservation districts with technology, websites, and communications.

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