Wednesday, January 30, 2008

County must do what Idaho won?t

Idaho state legislators are slowly running out of reasons to avoid enacting a state law requiring property sale prices to be disclosed to county tax assessors. The overriding public interest is in creating fair assessments and taxes for Idaho property owners, not protecting data on the commission income of real estate salespeople or worrying about property owners' sales information,

So, Blaine County commissioners must do what the state Legislature has failed to do--enact its own county ordinance requiring disclosure of sales information within five days to the county tax assessor.

If Blaine County passes this law, as Kootenai and Bonner counties also are likely to do, this local action just might uncork a revolution among state lawmakers and lead to a state law.

Blaine County commissioners shouldn't wait with their fingers crossed and their hopes high, however. Now is the time to enact a county law that County Tax Assessor Valdi Pace insists will enable her to end years of guessing about market values and have real-time data on which to base her assessments.

Yes, county impertinence in preempting the state Legislature might lead to a lawsuit, challenging the right of local jurisdictions to assume what should be a state responsibility.

However, going in, counties have a strong argument: The current law requires assessors to render assessments based on fair market value. Without accurate, timely data on property sales, how can an assessor make fair valuations?

A local ordinance will end the voodoo science of guessing assessments.

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