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Tax bill includes new roads levy, higher garbage service fees

Tax bill from Idaho County

Photo by Andrew Ottoson
Tax bill from Idaho County



— With notices in the mail, some who own property in Idaho County have seen a big new tax on the bill.

Others have seen a tax rate lower than it was last year, but some of those who have seen their rates dip are still owing local governments more overall this year due to a rise in county solid waste fees. Still others – namely, those whose property is served by the Idaho County Road & Bridge Department – have seen both a higher solid waste fee and a significantly higher overall tax rate due to the new levy, which the county commission began considering last summer and approved in September.

First half taxes are due Dec. 20

Tax notices are out and the Idaho County tax collector has already received “about three feet of mail back,” county treasurer Abbie Hudson told the Free Press Monday, Nov. 27. “By the time Dec. 20 rolls around, I’ll have about six feet of mail sitting on the counter. The people who come in will get waited on first, and the mail is going to sit there until we have time to work it. We go by postmark, and as long as it’s postmarked on or before Dec. 20, we accept it as good mail.”

The county itself is just one of the many local government entities where local taxes and fees are collected. The county collects the local taxes, and across the county, there are 48 different taxing districts. Any given property is subject to only a handful of these districts, and how much any one property is taxed depends on the districts that tax it.

Within the City of Grangeville, six taxing districts overlap most properties, and within those six districts, property owners are billed the same fees and taxed at the same rate as their neighbors.

For those who have paid the county, city, school, highway, cemetery and hospital tax bills on properties within Grangeville proper since 2010, this year marks a reversal of a multi-year trend. In total, the tax rate here worked out to a bit less than $1,300 per $100,000 assessed value in 2016, and the 2017 rate is lower than last year’s by about $7-$8 per $100,000.

Until this year, the overall rate property taxpayers in Grangeville proper have been asked to pay had ticked higher each year since 2010. Still, the rate here once again figures to compare favorably to the urban average in neighboring counties. (Last year, non-exempt urban property taxes averaged, per $100,000, according to the Idaho State Tax Commission, $2,018 in Clearwater County, $1,735 in Lewis County, $2,023 in Nez Perce County, $1,567 in Adams County, $1,069 in Valley County, and $1,211 in Lemhi County.)

For some Grangeville property owners, the local government services bill is lower overall, but for others in the city, this year’s solid waste fee hike more than swallows up the amount freed up by the lower property tax rate.

For instance, for a house on the north side of town, valued at about $58,000, the 2017 tax bill (not including a homeowners exemption) came in at nearly $750, about $4.50 lower than the 2016 tax bill. But with the county’s fee on city residential solid waste system users rising from $13.80 to $30, the overall bill on such a house comes in about $14 (3.5 percent) higher this year.

While the solid waste fee hikes are county-wide, changes in the bottom-line numbers from last year to this year vary, case-by-case, depending on the mix of taxing districts any given property falls within.

Some property owners face a new county road and bridge levy that affects a wide swath within the county, but outside of other highway districts. For those who have to pay it, the new road and bridge levy likely dwarfs all the other changes their districts have made since last year.

Faced with the loss of approximately $1.2 million in federal funding for local roads, the county commissioners approved collection of about $650,000 in new taxes from those who live under the road and bridge jurisdiction. For local taxpayers, the new road and bridge levy amounts to owing about $123 per $100,000 on top of their obligations to other local taxing districts.

Two main sources of federal funding have long provided much of the money for county roads – many of which are part of the networks that provide access to federal forests. One of the two main funding sources has not been renewed amid the Republican Party’s push for federal income tax cuts. The county had levied $5,000 in local property tax for the road and bridge department in 2008, but by far the largest part of the funding had come from the federal PILT (Payment In Lieu of Taxes) and SRS (Secure Rural Schools) programs, which filled in for the loss of the local share of federal timber revenue, which dwindled during the 1990s.

The Free Press first reported the tax and fee hikes July 28; the hikes were subject to public hearings at the county courthouse on Sept. 5. Zero members of the general public attended the hearings.

Idaho Homeowner Exemption Law

Under Idaho’s homeowner exemption law, half the assessed value of one’s primary home (or $100,000) is exempt, so homeowners who live inside Grangeville city limits are seeing letters from the tax collector demanding about $650 per $100,000 value of their main house. Other exemptions – such as for agricultural land – may apply. The numbers below are for non-exempt property inside Grangeville city limits.

Property Tax Rate per $100,000 assessed value, Grangeville, by district (round numbers)

2017 (round numbers)

  • Idaho County: $207
  • G’ville City: $664
  • G’ville School (244): $317
  • G’ville Highway: $20
  • G’ville Cemetery: $39
  • Syringa Hospital: $46
  • Total: $1,293

2016 (round numbers)

  • Idaho County: $234
  • G’ville City: $640
  • G’ville School (244): $322
  • G’ville Highway: $20
  • G’ville Cemetery: $39
  • Syringa Hospital: $46
  • Total: $1,301

Difference from 2016 (round numbers)

  • Idaho County: -$27
  • G’ville City: +$24
  • G’ville School (244): -$5
  • G’ville Highway: ~
  • G’ville Cemetery: ~
  • Syringa Hospital: ~
  • Total: -$8

Difference from 2010 (round numbers)

  • Idaho County: -$26
  • G’ville City: +$153
  • G’ville School (244): +$69
  • G’ville Highway: +$3
  • G’ville Cemetery: +$4
  • Syringa Hospital: +$9
  • Total: +$212

Solid waste fees across the county are higher this year. The Free Press reported Aug. 2 that the costs involved with keeping up the local solid waste system rose 2.1 percent this year, compared to increases ranging from 1.1 to 1.6 percent in previous years.

Idaho County Solid Waste Fees

2017

  • City Residential: $30
  • County Residential: $215
  • Commercial: $430

2016

  • City Residential: $13.80
  • County Residential: $198.72
  • Commercial: $397.44

Difference

  • City Residential: +$16.20
  • County Residential: +$16.28
  • Commercial: +$32.56


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