Kootenai County didn’t collect enough taxes from property owners last year due to a glitch in the county’s software.
As a result, the county didn’t have enough to pay its taxing entities the full amounts they were due. Hardest hit were the cities of Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls and local school districts.
It’s a loss of anywhere from tens of dollars to tens of thousands for several taxing districts, Kootenai County Commissioner Rick Currie said Wednesday. The county is still trying to determine exactly how much the glitch will cost the taxing districts and how to undo the damage.
County officials say one thing is certain: There’s no legal recourse for the county to go back to taxpayers to make up the difference.
Assessor Mike McDowell, who oversees the assessor’s office where the problem originated, could not be reached for comment, nor could County Commissioners Todd Tondee and Rich Piazza. All three are on a Caribbean cruise this week, according to Currie.
County Auditor David McDowell, Mike McDowell’s brother, said the snafu occurred after property was assessed and before tax bills were issued.
The bills reflected a lower value than the actual assessed value of property throughout the county.
David McDowell said the problem was discovered two to three months ago during an audit.
“We’re hoping to have a solution in the next few weeks,” he said.
David McDowell said 2007 property taxes were not affected.
The city of Coeur d’Alene was told nearly $204,000 in tax revenue the city was expecting wasn’t collected.
“It does impact us,” Coeur d’Alene Finance Director Troy Tymesen said. “We will be as conservative as we always are and we will look to slow down any anticipated expenses.”
Tymesen said the city could delay hiring for positions that need to be filled.
Post Falls Finance Director Shelly Enderud said the city was told it had been shorted an $20,000 to $30,000.
It’s not the first time the assessor’s office has experienced problems with the software.
Post Falls and Coeur d’Alene last year received tax money that should have gone to the cities’ urban renewal agencies.
“We had to come up with $25,000 to pay Urban Renewal last year,” Enderud said. “When that’s not in your budget, that’s difficult to do.”
Steve Fiscus of the Idaho State Tax Commission said other counties also use the same software, but the tax commission has not heard of any problems similar to those Kootenai County experienced in converting to the new system. Though Currie said the county will work with the tax commission to come up with a resolution, Fiscus said there’s nothing the tax commission can do to help.
“It really is up to the county to fix it,” he said. “It really is an issue they need to work with the taxing districts and resolve if, in fact, they can.”