By historical standards, the recent action taken by Bonner County commissioners to order property assessments returned to last year’s levels doesn’t rank as high as the Boston Tea Party. No one tossed tea into Lake Pend Oreille. No one’s going to war to change the value of the family’s lake homestead. Yet. But the bold – some might say reckless – decision by commissioners Karl Dye, Marcia Phillips and Joe Young to turn back the clock could be the tipping point for the property tax rebellion brewing in high-growth parts of Idaho. The Boston Tea Party spread to other harbors as copycats protested taxation without representation, too. Bonner County may have set the stage for widespread protest by ordering Assessor Judie Conlan to roll back assessments by Monday. At best, the action will serve notice to the state that Bonner County residents are fed up with higher taxes prompted by escalating valuations and want tax relief immediately. At worst, the cheers from appreciative constituents ringing in the ears of county commissioners could change to jeers if the state tax commission imposes across-the-board assessment hikes to better reflect Bonner County market values. One thing is certain: The commissioners added an exclamation point to the property tax rebellion brewing in popular Idaho areas while the state sits on a $199.9 million surplus.
For the rest of my editorial this morning on the Bonner County tax rebellion, click here.