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Kootenai County property values decline again

The net taxable value of Kootenai County declined in 2010 for the third straight year, following a huge spike in value from 2005 to 2007.

The value peaked in 2007 at $16.6 billion, reflecting assessments in 2006. This year, that value dropped to $12.6 billion.

“We saw a more rapid incline than other counties in the state. We’re now seeing a more rapid decline,” said county Assessor Mike McDowell. However, he said, the market is stabilizing following the dramatic run-up in values.

On Tuesday, the county mailed 85,691 assessment notices to property owners, reflecting estimated values as of Jan. 1, 2010. McDowell’s staff analyzed 2,565 sales that occurred in 2009 to establish the values, he said.

The assessed value of the county dropped $2.1 billion this year, following a $1.2 billion reduction last year and a $717 million drop in 2008.

State law requires that assessments be 90 to 110 percent of market value, based on an annual State Tax Commission study that compares assessed values with sales prices. Only calendar year sales can be used. McDowell said the county also tries to be conservative – current indicators show that the valuations are at the lowest possible level within those guidelines.

Though most homeowners likely will see reductions in their property values, he said, that doesn’t mean their property taxes will drop. Assessments are only the first part of the equation. Next, county taxing districts will set budgets to determine how much money they’ll need, which ultimately determines levy rates. The times and dates of the budget hearings are listed on the assessment notices. McDowell encouraged residents to get involved in those hearings if they’re concerned about property taxes.

“The property tax we all pay depends on how much revenue is requested in the property tax funded budgets,” he said in the release. “Our property tax bills could go up even if our net taxable values go down, depending on how much tax is budgeted.”

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