assessments deemed fair
Express Staff Writer
Co. appears to be paying its fair share of property taxes even though its
commercial land is assessed at only one-fifteenth that of downtown Ketchum’s,
the Idaho State Tax Commission implied in a recently released report.
came to light last fall when a Sun Valley resident filed a complaint with
the commission alleging that Sun Valley’s 50-acre commercial core is
undervalued for tax purposes in relation to his residential property. The
core contains the Sun Valley Lodge, ice rink and mall, but is only a
portion of the 2,100-acre resort. The ski lifts are on additional, public
land managed by the U.S. Forest Service.
resident compared the assessed value of the Sun Valley Co. land to that of
Giacobbi Square in Ketchum to prove his point. The 50-acre parcel in Sun
Valley is assessed at $12.3 million, for a value of less than $6 per
square foot, while the 1.1-acre Giacobbi Square property is assessed at
$4.4 million, for a value of over $90 a square foot.
In a report
dated June 7, the Tax Commission upheld Blaine County’s method of
assessing the resident’s property. The report did not thoroughly
investigate the fairness of Sun Valley Co.’s assessment, but did touch
don’t find evidence that it’s not being valued fairly," said
Gregory Cade, administrator for the commission’s County support
Craig, the report’s author and the commission’s section manager for
the North Region, stated that the best way to place an accurate value on
the Sun Valley land would be to find a recent sale of a comparable
property in the area—of which there are none. Craig stated that a second
method would be to review Sun Valley Co.’s income, but much of that
income is generated by public land, not Sun Valley’s
the report reviewed the county’s method of assessing the property by
using the 1977 sale price of $12.5 million for the entire resort and
increasing it by the estimated value of local real estate inflation. The
2,100-acre property was assessed in 2001 at $35.5 million.
core was deemed to make up $3 million of the total 1977 price, and was
assessed in 2001 at $12.3 million.
stated that the core parcel’s value must be determined by looking at it
as a whole, not by what it might be worth if sold in small chunks. For one
thing, it points out, the value of large parcels is always less per square
foot than that of small parcels.
‘core area’ is unique not only from the total size as compared to
other areas," the report adds, "but also from the fact that much
of this area is ‘open space’…It remains undeveloped by choice. This
open area is part of the image that Sun Valley uses to distinguish it from
other destination resorts that have buildings on every square inch of the
property. These large open areas will…never be marketed, as a primary
commercial center in town would be."
requires an assessor to take into account the current use of the property
as a "major consideration" in determining its value. In an
interview, Cade said Idaho is the only state in the country that applies
that criterion to every type of property.
that requirement that changes the fundamental definition of the scope and
purpose of an appraisal," Cade said.