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High Bannock County assessments ‘guaranteed’ to lower levy

Many Bannock County residents have been angered and confused since receiving their property assessments. Increases on average of more than 20 percent have homeowners wondering how such an increase could have occurred, seemingly overnight.

Long lines and short tempers have been common in the assessor’s office as people search for an explanation.

“I’ve never seen it confusing like it is from year to year,” longtime Bannock County resident Steve Leaman said, “but this one is kinda confusing.”

The County Assessor, Sheri Davis, offered a simple answer.

“It is a market correction, it is a market correction,” she said.

But it’s not that simple.

The county was not up to state compliance since many home market values weren’t up to date and hadn’t been for years.

“You are required to bring your values into compliance so that the state, the state has authority to step in and do it themselves, and if we would not have, we were far enough out of compliance that they would have stepped in and regulated our values,” she explained.

Davies said that this would’ve prevented people from appealing those numbers for three years. But many have asked for an appeal this year. So many that Davies said she was afraid to guess the total.

The increases, which some, like Leaman, have seen at nearly 50 percent this year, are part of an indexing process.

Each year, 20 percent of the homes in the county are appraised. This way, all the homes in the county have been appraised over a five-year span.

This year, nearly 100 percent of the county’s homes were brought up to market value.

But Davies, who’s held the position for less than six months, said this issue goes back years.

“I’ve been told that values in Bannock County have not been addressed for decades.”

It is unclear exactly how that could have occurred, but Davies said it’s more than likely the reason the mill levy in the county is the highest in the state.

“That happens when our values are low and not at market value,” she said.

Davies said the increased market values are actually desirable since they will help to lower the levy.

“We figured that same cost of running our government, against a higher amount, that, by law, that forces that levy down,” she said. “And so, guaranteed, as these go up … that levy will go down.”

Still, there is confusion as to what causes the value to rise.

“What do you do to your property to make it go up?” Leaman asked. “Can you plant a tree? Property go up? Put a fence, does it change?

“I just I don’t understand it all.”

Davies acknowledged that some numbers may be inaccurate, due to issues that arose when the office changed computer systems.

If you wish to file an appeal, the office asks that you do so before July 5, but they will continue to honor requests until July 8.

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