I’m responding to our county officials post regarding property tax increases and how those taxes are spent.
Their response offered no mention of the hardship created to many by rising property taxes and no solutions. Instead, they offered a list of taxing districts, services, and even non-profit organizations that have ever increasing budgets at the burden of the taxpayers.
They mentioned an average budget increase of 4.34% or 26% over the course of six years, but most of have experienced more than double that percent in property tax increases, some much more. They are claiming that the average assessed value has increased 30% for residential but many of us have seen increases over 100%.
How come some of our values have increased more than others? In a posting by the Assessor’s Office, they had a video comparing housing value assessments to ordering in a restaurant. Some will order a more expensive entrée than others and should pay accordingly. The problem with that analogy is most of us didn’t order the more expensive entrée and we are being penalized by those who have. We are also being penalized if we make improvements to our homes. Take a look around your neighborhood and talk to your neighbors. Those who have made the least effort to improve or do regular upkeep on their homes are typically the ones with the lowest increase in assessed value. If you do improvements, you can expect a visit from the county appraiser. You are not required to let them on your property or in your home to re-assess your property due to improvements.
If someone is willing to pay $300K for a house that two or three years ago was $100K, that is their choice. They know going in that they will be paying taxes on the purchases price, not the prior assessed value. However, those of us who bought our homes for the much lower price should not have to pay higher taxes because of someone else’s decision. As stated before, I understand the Idaho law regarding assessments and fair market value and that it is out of the county’s control, but the tax rate and spending are not.
Since the county has offered no solution to this problem, I will. No single existing property owner should have their taxes increased more than the percent of the county budget increase. New property owners will pay taxes based on their purchase price, then be limited to the percent of budget increases. A simple solution that I challenge our county officials to implement without artificially increasing the budget.
To ensure that the county budget isn’t artificially inflated, residents need to hold them accountable. Budget hearings begin this month and are usually poorly attended. These hearings are your opportunity to see where your property taxes are being spent and to voice your concerns.
Christina Marie Stanley