In what may very well be an unprecedented event in Idaho tax history, Bonner County Commissioners on Friday ordered their assessor to roll back all property valuations to what they were last year. Assessor Judie Conlan said commissioners gave her office a deadline of July 24 – a week from Monday – to undo this year’s assessments. “It’s really putting our office in a tailspin,” Conlan said. “The commissioners have given me a monumental tax. I don’t know if we can accomplish it in the time frame they’ve given us.” Commissioner Karl Dye said Friday’s decision was due to doubts commissioners had in the assessment process. Conlan discounted Dye’s criticism. “We believe our values are good values,” she said. The total assessed value of property in the county increased 69 percent from 2005 to 2006 – compared to a 40 percent increase in Kootenai County. A record 2,700 Bonner County property owners appealed their property valuations this year.
Ted Spangler, a deputy attorney general assigned to the Idaho Tax Commission, said the commissioners’ decision may have been an attempt to address the unusually high number of appeals from angry property owners. “Apparently they have settled on this as a way of attempting to resolve those appeals in one action,” he said. Spangler said state law and the Idaho Constitution require assessments be based on fair market value. If the county’s assessments are found to stray too far from market value, Spangler said the tax commission could order the county to reassess the property values. “It does not happen often that counties are so far out of compliance that the tax commission has to take that sort of action,” he said, “but it has happened before” — Taryn Brodwater/SR
Question: Did the Bonner County commissioners act courageously or foolishly?