Filled with frustration, one Bannock County resident is taking matters into her own hands.
Claudia Ortega started a petition to recall Bannock County Assessor Sheri Davies after a controversy involving property assessments came up.
When Davies sent out this year’s property assessments to Bannock County residents, more than 1,000 people filed an appeal. Ortega said she was too late to file.
“Our property taxes, I started out paying 4,000 dollars. Now, I’m paying 6,600 dollars, and with this new assessment, ours is gonna go up to 7,600 dollars,” Ortega said.
On average, home values increased by about 20 percent. Some homes were valued at upward of 40 percent more than the previous year.
Davies said that’s because previous assessments didn’t match the market value, meaning the county was not in compliance with the state. She also said that by raising property taxes, the levy would come down. Ortega isn’t buying it.
“Do I believe that? No, not really,” she said.
Ortega formed the Pocatello/Bannock County Homeowners’ Alliance in order to “bring about change in our city and county government,” according to the Facebook page.
“As citizens and residents of this town and this county, we are entitled to nothing less than honest, transparent, responsible government. And I don’t really think that’s too much to ask,” Ortega said.
The petition has been approved by the County Clerk’s Office, and now the group must collect signatures from 20 percent of the county’s registered voters.
“Their number of signatures they need is 9,101,” said Julie Hancock, Bannock County elections administrator.
If the group gets those signatures, according to state statute, the county clerk will ask the assessor if she’d like to resign.
“If they choose not to resign, then we take it to a ballot question during the next election cycle,” Hancock said.
The next election is in November.
“The deadline for receiving wording is Sept. 16, for a recall in November, so that shrinks their time frame,” Hancock said.
Rather than 75 days, the group has eight weeks to get signatures. Ortega is confident they will.
“People are pretty fired up. So, yeah, I’m thinking we can get 10,000 signatures,” she said.
If the group doesn’t acquire the more than 9,000 signatures it needs by Sept. 16, it can still have the full 75 days, and could get the question on the ballot in March 2020.