Monday, July 15, 2024

$53 million property value error to delay tax notices

Hagadone News Network | November 17, 2023 1:09 AM

COEUR d’ALENE — A typo resulting in a multimillion dollar property value assessment error is expected to affect multiple taxing districts in Kootenai County and delay the distribution of property tax notices.

County elected officials convened Thursday for a special meeting to address an overvalued lakefront property in the Rockford Bay Area.

An assessor valuation amendment signed Oct. 24 by commissioners and Chief Deputy Assessor Ben Crotinger indicates the front footage of the parcel, was mistakenly entered by an appraiser as 6,966 feet instead of 69.66 feet.

The error caused the property’s valuation to jump from $1.4 million in 2022 to $54.3 million this year. The property’s amended market value is $634,120.

“It is a human error that occurred,” Kootenai County Assessor Bèla Kovacs said.

Kovacs said the valuation was reviewed by multiple employees in the assessor’s office, including the appraiser, a manager and “business intelligence analysts,” but no one caught the error until October.

The valuation change affects seven taxing districts: Kootenai County, the Coeur d’Alene School District, Worley Highway District #4, Worley Fire, Kootenai County EMS, North Idaho College and the Community Library Network.

The change’s impact on those taxing districts is estimated to be between $200,000 and $250,000. The corrected levy rates have not yet been calculated.

Idaho law provides county commissioners with the authority to order a correction to be made prior to the distribution of tax notices, which must occur by the fourth Monday in November.

Kootenai County Treasurer Steve Matheson said he decided not to distribute tax notices so the commissioners could first order corrective action, which they did during Thursday’s meeting.

“As a result of that decision, (the tax notices) will be going out after the actual statutory deadline,” Matheson said.

To compensate for the delay, Matheson asked commissioners to consider authorizing the cancelation of penalties and interest on some property owners who pay their taxes after the Dec. 20 deadline.

Commissioners will likely consider the matter next week or later, when county staff have a better idea of when tax notices will arrive in mailboxes.

Alan Dornfest, the Idaho State Tax Commission’s tax policy chief, said his agency has been in contact with Kootenai County since the error was discovered.

“We are committed to helping you folks through the process in any way we can,” Dornfest said Thursday. “I’m not excusing error, but we have seen errors over history that have been of similar magnitude and counties generally have made the corrections. We have been down this pathway.”

    Steve Matheson