Kelly Richards: If the levy rate does not decrease somewhere in the neighborhood of the average assessed increase (in this case 40%) then the taxes each person pays out of their pocket will increase. This is a good reminder for elected officials as they set budgets for the coming year. I believe elected officials want to do the right thing, but the budget process is complex. As budgets are voted on, no one knows how each budget will impact each property owner until its all done. The familiar question in budget hearings to financial advisors is if their levy rate will still decrease, even with the increase in the budget they are about to approve. I believe elected officials should be asking not just if the levy rate will decrease, because it will in a growth market, but by how much, and then set budgets accordingly.
DFO: Bingo! Assessed values can go up all they want and not appreciably affect the average North Idaho home, if local governments keep a tight rein on budgets. That’s why the current budget process of the county commissioners, for example, is so important. If the commissioners take all that’s allowable by law, we’re going to be hit in the pocketbooks in December.