COEUR d’ALENE — The delay by the Kootenai County Assessor’s Office in providing the county’s property values to the auditor could result in property owners paying more taxes than are needed by local taxing districts for their fiscal year 2023 budgets, according to Kootenai County Clerk Jim Brannon.
After Kootenai County Assessor Béla Kovacs delivered the 2022 property values Friday night, more than a month late, staff from the auditor’s office raced to provide them to taxing districts.
In Idaho counties, the clerk serves as the county auditor and is responsible for preparing the annual county budget for the Board of County Commissioners.
The office also notifies every taxing district of the total taxable valuation of all property located within each district, using information from the assessor.
Kovacs said his office electronically provided the values to the clerk around 6:40 p.m. Friday.
Clerk Jim Brannon told The Press that Kovacs’ email contained a disclaimer that “there appears to be an imbalance on this roll.”
Brannon said he requested that his office immediately review the stated imbalance.
“That’s what we did Saturday instead of going to Art on the Green,” Brannon said Monday.
Despite the disclaimer, Brannon said his staff determined that the values were balanced. He expected to provide the values to the county’s taxing districts Monday afternoon.
Idaho law requires each county auditor to release the final new construction roll by the fourth Monday in July and the remaining rolls by the first Monday in August.
But Brannon’s office didn’t receive the rolls from the assessor until almost a week after the second deadline — and more than a month after the assessor’s deadline to provide them, the fourth Monday in June.
“We have to get this done,” Brannon said. “I’ve got 60 taxing districts that are depending on this.”
In order to calculate the levy rate, taxing districts need the current year’s assessed property values.
Because the assessor had not provided the values, all taxing districts in Kootenai County had to create preliminary budgets based on estimated revenue, rather than official data.
Brannon said that’s cause for concern.
“Everybody is going to be estimating high because they didn’t have values,” he said. “After doing the budget hearings, if they approve just what they estimated, the county taxpayers are going to pay more than they need.”
Kovacs said in a memorandum issued last week that the delay was due in part to an extraordinarily high volume of property assessment value appeals.
More than 700 Kootenai County property owners appealed their 2022 assessments. Just 81 appeals were filed last year.
The state granted an extension for the county’s Board of Equalization to address the numerous appeals, but that extension did not apply to the assessor’s deadline.
Brannon said the situation is unprecedented. By law, his office should have at least a month to work with the values provided by the assessor. Instead, they had less than one business day.
“It’s very, very late and has never happened before,” Brannon said. “I’ve been clerk for almost nine years. Never, ever has it been late like this. Ever.”