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Property taxes on residents’ minds

by DANIEL RADFORD
Staff Writer | August 14, 2022 1:00 AM

SANDPOINT — The biggest question on residents’ minds? Are my taxes going up?

While some residents are concerned about property tax increases in the wake of higher value assessments, Bonner County Clerk Michael Rosedale wants constituents to know that the reality isn’t as bad as some fear.

Rosedale said the county can only increase its property tax revenue by 3% each year. Last year, property taxes generated almost $30.5 million. This year, the projection is almost $32.2 million.

Rosedale hopes to assuage community concerns about property taxes at two public budget hearings Aug. 22.

According to Idaho Code 63-802, the amount of property tax revenue a county can collect is capped at a 3% annual increase. This does not mean that property taxes will go up 3% across the board. That 3% yearly cap limits how much cash the county can make off of property taxes, it is not a cap on a property owner’s year-to-year tax burden. An individual’s property tax burden could fluctuate (or even decrease) by much more.

Rosedale made clear that individual property tax burdens could vary greatly. A property owner’s tax burden is determined by their “relative place in line” with regards to their property values. Some property owners may see sizable drops or increases, depending on the relative value of their property, or their “percent of the pie” as Rosedale put it.

“[T]here are a lot of people who will see a decrease in their taxes,” Rosedale said. “Mine is increasing personally 33%.”

“The assessments only … determine your spot relative to everybody else,” Rosedale said.“If your assessment doubles, it doesn't mean anything if everybody else’s doubled, too. It only is your place in line.”

County Comptroller Nancy Twineham underscored that property taxes do not make up the majority of county funding. According to the proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2023, property taxes make up less than 40% of anticipated revenue.

Twineham said that of the “several different funds that we operate throughout the county, … about half of those are fee based,” she said. For example, she pointed to the waterways district and our marine patrol district as being paid from boater registration fees, not property tax dollars, Twineham said.

Twineham said that, when it comes to property tax bills, only about half actually comes from the county. The rest comes from a variety of taxing districts of which there are over 60 in the county. The county has a fiduciary responsibility to collect taxes on behalf of those districts (such as hospital, fire, or library districts) and direct the appropriate funds to the corresponding entity.

Information: To view the budget for fiscal year 2023, search “publication for 2023 budget” on BonnerCountyID.gov. There will be two public meetings on Monday, Aug. 22 at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. at the Bonner County Administrative Building at 1500 US-2 in Sandpoint.

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