Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Property assessments compliance set by state

By VALDI PACE, Blaine County Assessor

The State Tax Commission recently told Blaine County that our category 20 (Urban Residential land (Ketchum, Sun Valley, Hailey, Bellevue, and Carey) properties were out of compliance for the 2004 assessment year. What this meant is that our ratios between assessed value and sales price were below the 90% acceptable ratio for the state standards. For those of you who were involved (some 4,500 parcels), the values were changed, the County Commission?s Board of Equalization reconvened, has adjourned, and the category 20 values are now in compliance with the state standards. As a point of clarification, all other properties in the county were found to be in compliance. That is why only ?city? properties were involved in this process.

This was not only a very difficult process for the county to experience and rectify, but it was most difficult on you the property taxpayer. During the six days of the appeals process, we heard many concerns about taxes, the time frame involved in this process, and other very pertinent questions regarding this issue. I am writing to you the taxpayer to hopefully shed some light on the subject, and help you to understand this process better.

Some of the concerns of the appellants speaking not only for themselves, but on behalf of their neighbors, and the public in general were this:

 How come there were just 5 days to appeal? Many people did not receive their mail in that time (out of state, country, etc.).

This is Idaho State law. We had no choice in this matter.

 Why does the state want this money?

The State does not get one dime of our taxes. All tax dollars go to our local taxing districts, i.e. county, city, school, cemetery, fire, etc.

 What is going to happen to our taxes with this major increase in value?

Your taxes will not increase at the rate the values increased. For example, there were increases in value from 10% up to 140%. The levy rate is more than likely to go down. We will know the levy rate by late September to early October, once the budgeting process is complete and through the approval process. Look for examples in another edition of this newspaper of what your taxes will be with the new levy rate sometime in October. By state law, the budgeting entities can only increase their budgets by 3% per year. The school district?s budgeting process is somewhat different, but it also will not increase at the level that the values increased.

 Why don?t you have this sales information that I am presenting here during this Board of Equalization?

Idaho is a non-disclosure state. Therefore, we do not get all of the sales information. The Assessor?s office receives approximately a 30% return on the Sales Verification letters that we send to buyers as a deed transfers. This is very limited information to base values on, but it is the best that we can do with what is available to us. The State Tax Commission has to run their ratio studies and make sure that we are in compliance with this limited information as well. The local multiple listing service, and the real estate industry in general will not share sales information with the Assessor?s office.

 Why doesn?t the homeowner?s exemption dollar amount increase or apply to land as well as the home?

Once again, this is Idaho State law.

We recommend that you make contact with our governor, and our local legislators. They are the people who can make a difference at the Statehouse with legislation regarding matters such as the homeowner?s exemption, fixed income property owners, etc.

Call the Assessor?s Office if you have any further questions: 788-5535

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