MEDICINE PARK, OK (KSWO) - Property taxes are on the rise for residents of Medicine Park.
The increase comes as a result of rising property values in the town. The Comanche County Assessor's office says several homes have recently sold for over $100 thousand.
While some may consider the hike bad news, the Comanche County Assessor's office says it is actually good news for property owners, but add some residents will have to pay a little more.
Most residents of Medicine Park will only see an increase of three or five percent, depending on if they have homestead or not. The real rate increases will come for those who live in the part of Medicine Park that is also in the Elgin School District, with the $45.5 million school bond coming up that could raise property taxes for them up to an additional 12 percent.
Most residents are grandfathered into their tax rates so to speak, which means state law only allows their property tax rates to increase by that rate of three or five percent each year. That rule is to protect a resident who may have bought a piece of land for a few thousand bucks thirty years ago from having to pay taxes on a $100 thousand piece of land today.
"Now if somebody buys a piece of property like a vacant lot off of somebody, and they build a house on it, then that property is going to go to full value," Comanche County Assessor Grant Edwards said. "That $1,000 lot now is going to be a $100 thousand lot. So it depends on if they've been out there a long time or if we're talking someone who is brand new."
Edwards said he actually views the increased property tax raises as a positive because it shows the property owners are sitting on more valuable land.
"Nobody, I would hope, would want their values to go down," Edwards said. "I know in my addition I certainly wouldn't like the value to go down. Nobody likes to pay taxes, I know that's a sore spot for everybody but we all have the state, local and federal tax and that's the way our county government works."
Edwards said there is such a discrepancy in property values now because the last time they did their evaluation, Medicine Park wasn't quite as popular of a destination as it is now.
"State statute says we have to re-evaluate an area once every four years," Edwards said. "So once in a visual inspection period of four years, we cover the whole county."
Edwards said the growth he has seen in property values in Medicine Park is extremely encouraging to him.
"It would be great if Geronimo and Sterling and Chattanooga and all these other towns had the growth that Medicine Park has," Edwards said. "Their growth increase helps the schools, it helps the county. It would be wonderful."
Edwards said that increase helps the county schools because 76 percent of all of the property tax money goes directly to whatever school district the property is in. So naturally, higher property tax means more money for the schools and vice versa.
They are evaluating the northwest part of the county this year, which includes all of Medicine Park and parts of Lawton. Last year they evaluated the northeast part of the county in Fletcher, Sterling and Elgin. They will evaluate the southern part of the county next year.