People in Wallace got a surprise in their property tax bills last month: A school bond payment that should have cost the average homeowner about $61 this year instead came out at $183.
It was a mistake. The Idaho district had refinanced the 30-year bond that a decade ago built Wallace Junior-Senior High School, where 244 students now attend grades 7 through 12. That move two years ago was designed to save the local taxpayers money, not cost them more.
As the district transitioned from the old loan to the new one, an error occurred, and the amount the district certified to the county for tax bills for 2014 included both the new payment and the old one, tripling the amount that taxpayers were billed for the year.
With the mistake fixed, Superintendent Bob Ranells estimates the refinanced bond actually will save taxpayers $100,000 and also shorten the repayment period.
The bond payment that’s due for the year is $187,494; the amount the district certified to the county was $559,610. For the owner of a $150,000 house with a homeowner’s exemption, that’s the difference between $61.39 for the year and $183.22, Shoshone County Deputy Auditor Linda Daugherty said.
Asked if she’s been hearing a lot about the overbilling, Daugherty said, “Oh, yes.”
Now the question is what to do about it. Under state law, there are two options, and the call is up to the county commissioners: recalculate and rebill, including sending out refunds where needed; or do nothing, letting this year’s overpayments hold over to cover future years’ bond payments.
Ranells recommends that “we go back and recalculate and have it be right,” despite the estimated $4,000 cost to do so.
“I understand people are always anxious about taxes, for sure – just like I am,” Ranells said. “We want it to be accurate and correct.”
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