COEUR d'ALENE - For the first time in six years, county property values have increased.
It was a slight increase at 1.9 percent, but an increase nonetheless, Kootenai County Assessor Mike McDowell said Thursday.
"Most of the increase can be attributed to an adjustment in the homeowners exemption," he said, adding that the maximum homeowners exemption was reduced this year to $81,000 from $83,974 last year.
The homeowners exemption is tied to the Idaho Housing Price Index by law, he said.
While the numbers will change between now and this fall, McDowell said the "regular" property value for 91,199 parcels in Kootenai County came in at $10,952,367,751.
"That is the first time we have had over 90,000 assessments," he added.
Kootenai County residents should see their assessment in the mail this week, he said. Residents are encouraged to review the assessed value and call 446-1500 if they don't agree with the valuation.
"We will investigate those and make any changes if necessary," he said. "If a resident is still not satisfied they can also appeal to the board of equalization."
Determining the value of property is a fairly complex process. McDowell said the assessor's office essentially looks at new construction prices and existing home sales in 660 different neighborhoods to determine property values.
"Additionally, we physically inspect 20 percent of the properties in the county every year," he said. "This year we looked at the waterfront properties."
He said some of those properties increased in price, some stayed static and some properties actually decreased in value. He said the physical inspections appear to be on par with the properties that were assessed using the sales data.
McDowell said this is just the first step in the budget process.
The county will still have to factor in the operating properties, such as utility property, and a supplemental role into the final year-end valuation, he said. That process will include an assessment of personal property values, which were reduced by the Idaho Legislature this year.
The Legislature exempted from taxation the first $100,000 worth of personal property this year, so approximately 6,700 Kootenai County residents who paid the tax last year won't have to pay it this year. In fact, only about 1,100 people will pay personal property taxes in Kootenai County this year. McDowell said the state will reimburse the county for the amount of the reduced taxes.
Once the valuation numbers are complete, the assessor will submit the final value to the county clerk, who will use that information to issue the tax levy rates to the various taxing districts in Kootenai County.