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Mill site ownership change to cut $3,300 from public funds

— The sale of a former timber mill site by Idaho Forest Group to the Nez Perce Tribe could reduce local public revenues by thousands of dollars in perpetuity.

Including fees for the county’s solid waste service and the Idaho Department of Lands’ fire protection service in addition to the county’s regular levy, the county’s new road and bridge levy and Kamiah-area taxing districts’ levies, the mill site’s annual public services bill had totaled nearly $3,300, Idaho County Treasurer Abbie Hudson said.

In letters to the area newspapers last month, Idaho County Commissioner Skip Brandt decried the loss of $682,711 of taxable private property. The site is no longer taxable due to the ownership change, the Clearwater Progress reported Feb. 1.

Report published in July on disclosure

In his letter to the newspapers, which the Free Press published Jan. 31, Idaho County Commission chairman Skip Brandt claimed “no one said a thing” about last year’s sale of a 40-acre private mining site to the Payette National Forest which was estimated to cost the county about $2,400 a year in tax revenues. The site, located along the Salmon River approximately 10 miles south of Dixie, was formerly the Painter Mine. Last July, the Free Press published a report shortly after the Payette National Forest sent the commission a letter disclosing it was in talks to buy that land.

The mill site sale touches three taxing districts over which Kamiah-area voters are the only ones who have say: the school district, the fire district and the cemetery district.

In one of its annual reports to the state tax commission, Idaho County reported a 2016 total value of almost $1.3 billion in property is subject to its taxes – about $8.4 million more than the previous year’s taxable total. But the Kamiah school district has seen its assessed value shrink by about $2 million a year since 2015.

Because the affected tax bases are of different sizes, changing any given property does not affect all of them in the same proportion – and because even the smallest of the affected taxing districts rests on a base of nearly $85 million, removing any one property from the rolls results in a tiny change compared to the total.

But dropping the mill site from the tax base registers on the scale of change the Kamiah school district’s tax base has seen since 2015. In December 2015, the Kamiah School District’s taxes were portioned across about $141 million of total taxable property value in Idaho County – a tax base that dipped to about $139 million by December 2016, which had dipped again, to $137 million, as of last September.

The Free Press sought the December 2017 property values for inclusion in this article, but the latest worksheet was not immediately available late on Monday, Feb. 12. The state tax commission collects annual December worksheets from each of the 44 counties statewide; it published the December 2016 worksheets last March on


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