Wednesday, June 8, 2005

County offers property tax advice to residents

Express Staff Writer

Marisa Nelson

With property assessment notices in the mail, the Blaine County Commission is providing a free service for residents who are hit especially hard by the county's increasing property values.

Economist Marisa Nelson will serve as Blaine County's first property taxpayer advocate.

Specifically, Nelson will help eligible residents access government programs that can help alleviate property tax pains.

For example, she will counsel people over the age of 62 on how to apply for the Idaho Property Tax Reduction Program, otherwise called the "circuit breaker." She said between 100 and 150 people in Blaine County are signed up for the circuit breaker, "but there are certainly others who just don't know about it."

Nelson will teach people about the advantages of reverse mortgages.

She will also help people apply for the Homeowner's Exemption for 2006. This exempts 50 percent, or $50,000, whichever is less, of the value of a home from being taxed.

Nelson will offer a workshop on these programs Friday, June 10, at 12:45 p.m. at the Blaine County Senior Center in Hailey.

She can be reached for advice or an appointment at (208) 309-2550.

According to the County Commission, Nelson brings excellent experience to the county, having previously worked for House Minority Leader Wendy Jaquet, D-Ketchum, and the Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber and Visitor's Bureau.

A Boise native, she is a recent graduate of the University of Virginia and will be in Blaine County as property taxpayer advocate through September.

Nelson said the continuation of the county program will depend on its success during this, its first year.

She also said she will work this summer to create a coalition of Idaho resort communities that could work collaboratively to seek solutions to common resort-area conundrums, like affordable housing, increasing property values and smart growth.

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