While the Governor drafts ineffectual culture-war bills of no practical import for most South Dakotans’ daily lives, rookie Representative Mike Weisgram (R-24/Fort Pierre) puts the first real bill in the South Dakota Legislative hopper, House Bill 1001, which would help more elderly and disabled South Dakotans qualify for the freeze on property tax assessments.
Weisgram’s bill—and it appears to be totally his bill, as he is the sole sponsor—has three sections. The first is purely style, rewording the age limit from “the age of sixty-five” to “sixty-five years of age.”
Section 2 raise the income caps on the assessment freeze. Currently disabled South Dakotans and South Dakotans over 65 can qualify for the assessment freeze if their household income is less than $20,000 if they live alone or less than $25,000 if they live with others. Weisgram would raise those limits to $35,000 for single-member households and $45,000 for multiple-member households.
Section 3 would raise the property value caps on the assessment freeze. Right now, the county treasurer can’t freeze assessments for single-family dwellings worth $150,000 or more. Weisgram would double that limit, raising it to $300,000.
These limits were last increased in 2004 (Senate Bill 88), when the Legislature swiftly approved raising the income caps from $15,041.28 to $20K for singles and from $18,001.59 to $25K for folks with roomies and raising the value cap from $100K to $150K.
HB 1001 75% increase in the solo household income criterion and 80% increase in the multiple-member household income criterion are a bit below the 85.1% increase in per-capita personal income the St. Louis Federal Reserve reports South Dakotans saw from 2004 to 2020. There may be other metrics to determine the proper index, but if we used this rate of per-capita personal income growth (without adding a good guess for growth in 2021) to determine the increases, HB 1001 would set the single income limit $2,020 higher and the multiple-member income limit $1,275 higher.
Section 3’s doubling of the home value cap aligns reasonably with data from the St. Louis Federal Reserve showing that South Dakota’s all-transactions house price index increased 103.2% from 2004 Q1 to 2021 Q3. Using that growth rate to set the value cap would add $4,800 to Weisgram’s proposed $300K limit. But the St. Louis Fed says South Dakota’s median house sales price over the same period has increased only 90.3%, which would bring Weisgram’s home value cap down $14,550 to $285,450.
Get out your spreadsheets, Chairman Dennert and House Taxation! You’ve got some figuring to do to catch South Dakota’s property tax freeze up with 17 years of wage and home value increases.