New county budget for FY 2023
Staff Writer | August 24, 2022 1:00 AM
SANDPOINT — Concerns about property taxes were soothed at Monday’s budget hearings.
The county clerk, comptroller, and commissioners met with the public first at 10 a.m. and again at 6 p.m. Both meetings, which only lasted about 30 minutes, were held to discuss key changes to the budget.
The current fiscal year's budget is $62,413,429 while the next fiscal year's budget is $81,133,014.
County Clerk Mike Rosedale and Comptroller Nancy Twineham reiterated on more than one occasion that a higher assessment does not necessarily mean higher taxes. Some may fear, for example, that a 10% increase in assessed property values would lead to a 10% increase in property tax, they said.
It is not that simple.
The pair clarified that X% increase of one’s assessed value does not equal X% increase in property tax. The state of Idaho does not permit counties to increase their year-to-year tax revenue above 3%. How that up to 3% increase is spread out among the taxpayers is the confusing part.
Legally, an individual’s property taxes can fluctuate up or down by any amount – if, and only if – that increase in property taxes averages to no more than a 3% increase in county property tax revenue.
Rosedale explained that one’s property taxes are based upon the rank of their property values relative to everyone else’s.
Commissioner Dan McDonald explained it as well. “If you think of all properties in the county on a line, your position in the line is based on what your valuation is of your property compared to all other property owners.”
McDonald continued: “What we’re seeing over the last several years is [that] the entire line is moving up. Individuals are not necessarily going up – unless they have done improvements that have increased the value of their property.”
McDonald said the number the commissioners put in the budget is a hard number.
“We do not get more money as the assessed values go up. We do not get less money when they go down,” he said.
A concerned resident asked if state law requires that the county increase property taxes. When he was told the county can actually lower taxes and does not require them to go up, he pressed the commissioners to “go back to the drawing board” and to “hold the line and give taxpayers a break,” citing inflation. However, expenses have risen for the county as well.
McDonald replied that the county has nowhere left to cut – without breaking state law. Idaho statute requires that counties provide certain services, like roads and bridges, solid waste disposal, or EMS.
Twineham also assuaged concerns with regards to notable increases. “Solid waste – that is not paid through any property tax. That is going to be paid from a bond [that was previously passed].” The resident replied that the taxpayers are still the ones paying for it.
Commissioner Jeff Connolly told those present that the budget process had already lasted for a month. “That is when I would encourage you to participate,” he added. “At this end, we are at the adoption point of the budget.”
Similar concerns were raised at the 6 p.m. meeting as well. At the meeting's conclusion, the commissioners moved to adopt the budget for Fiscal Year 2023. The motion passed.
Information: For a deeper dive into the county budget, go to BonnerCountyID.org and search “publication for the 2023 budget” to find the categorized budget by department and service.