Tuesday, June 18, 2024

LETTER: In response to; Not Just a Shoshone County Issue

| December 27, 2022 5:10 AM

In response to Not Just a Shoshone County Issue. We’re those people who moved to the area. I share the author's frustration over our increased property taxes but the real culprit is a flawed tax system.

I grew up in Idaho County, Idaho. I tell everyone this because I’m aware of Idaho’s opinion of outsiders. As a kid. I remember my dad complaining about Californians raising prices. We’re not from California, we’ve never lived there. Growing up, I was a free lunch/cheese kid. My wife’s childhood much the same. After high school, I spent almost a decade in the military, then both my wife and I worked all over the country for the federal government. We went from being liabilities to our country and neighbors to assets as we developed our careers. I say this because who and what you are matters in North Idaho. We retired here because now that jobs don’t dictate decisions, we can pick where we live. We share North Idaho’s values and choose to live in, and be part of, a community where our values match those of our neighbors.

First, you can’t buy what’s not for sale. If we’re blaming this on the buyers 50% of the blame lies with the sellers cashing in. Another factor; property owners often don’t get permits for upgrades/additions. When a location becomes hot a bunch of 2,000 square-foot houses get listed as 2,600 square-foot houses because of the upgrades of a decade ago. The assessor's records don’t show this so your 2,000 square-foot house gets assessed against the price of now 2,600 square-foot houses. From a previous home/locations research, I found this single factor caused over 10% of additional taxes in a hot market.

The real problem is the tax system. Taxes are assessed to provide a service. Those costs should be the determining factor, not property value. I called the assessor. They asked if I would share what we paid for our property, which I didn’t. I was then asked if we paid less than the assessed value? Unsaid message; “Are you so stupid you paid too much?” Property value has nothing to do with the cost of services, yet blame is pinned on your property. Tax rates did go down last year, but not near an offset of what property went up, why? Our taxes went up over 26% when inflation is 10%. Does it cost 16% more for the same services or is this additional funding, why? New people require services but they’re also paying increased rates. Is the “system” using “property value” as a scapegoat to garner more funding?

Property value can be used and I have no problem with those of means paying more, within reason. But, using property value increases as justification for more tax revenues is a sleight of hand. We should be told if and why the cost to deliver services went up rather than ‘well, property value is up.’

Public institutions never ask for less money. In my almost 35 years with the federal government, I never heard anyone ask for less; they always need more or it will be a crisis. Any money saved is always spent somewhere else. The budget doesn’t go down, it becomes the baseline used to ask for more.

Regarding the other costs, the author is correct. I've seen this everywhere I've lived. I wish people weren't selling, changing the economy and values of the Silver Valley, but it would be hypocritical of me to publicly take that stand now that we’re here.

Mark A. Brown