Ada County property tax bills likely to rise again

Ada County home values increased, which means property tax bills likely will, too.
Ada County home values increased, which means property tax bills likely will, too.

For the fourth consecutive year, Ada County property values rose, after four straight years of decline during the recession.

That means your property tax bill likely is headed up as well.

Two main factors determine a property tax bill: the value of the property and the levy rates set by each taxing district that includes the property. A third factor, the homeowners exemption, applies to owner-occupied homes.

Here’s what you need to know about how those bills are determined.

1. How are levy rates set?

By dividing the total amount of a taxing district’s budget to be funded by property tax by the total taxable value of all properties within the district. This rate, multiplied by the taxable value of the property, determines the amount of taxes owed.

State law allows taxing districts to increase their property tax budget by up to 3 percent a year, plus the property taxes collected on the value of new construction. If values rise, the districts can boost their budgets without raising levy rates.

Also, each property falls within several independent taxing districts.

Ada County has 41 districts, including the county, cities, schools and the highway district, as well as smaller ambulance, fire, library, cemetery, mosquito abatement, irrigation and community infrastructure districts. Your property tax bill include taxes for all districts you’re in.

The 2016 levy rates fell or remained the same in Ada’s 40 active taxing districts. One district, Spring Valley community infrastructure district north of Eagle, has not levied any taxes since it was created in 2014.

2. How much are assessed values rising, and where?

Each May, county assessors issue new values for land and improvements effective Jan. 1 of that year.

This year, Ada County residential assessments increased an average of 8 percent. Increases ranged from 5 percent in South Boise to 34 percent in fast-growing southwest Meridian.

This year’s median home assessment is $204,300, nearly the same as in 2007. The median peaked in 2008 at $211,600 and plummeted to $137,900 in 2012.

3. Will the homeowners exemption offset the additional taxes districts are collecting?

This exemption allows half the assessed value of an owner-occupied home and up to one acre of land to be exempted from taxation, up to a maximum amount.

This year’s maximum amount is $94,745. Last year’s was $89,580.

The rise in a property’s value this year likely will offset any decrease resulting from the increased exemption.

Since 1980, the exemption has been the Legislature’s way of offering Idahoans property tax relief. In 2006, the state changed the law to tie the amount to a federal housing price index for Idaho. This year the Legislature approved capping the exemption at $100,000 or half the home’s value, whichever is less. This goes into effect next year.

4. Which Ada County city has the lowest levy rate? The highest?

Eagle has the highest property value and the lowest levy rate of the county’s six cities. Its 2016 median home value is $326,600, according to the Ada County Assessor’s Office. If you own that home, you’ll pay the city $228.18. (The math: $326,600 minus the maximum $94,745 homeowners exemption is $231,855, multiplied by the city’s levy rate of 0.000984175.)

Boise has the second-lowest property value and the highest levy rate of the six cities. Kuna has the lowest property value. Boise’s median home value is $192,300. If you own that home, you’ll pay the city $695.85. (The math: $192,300 minus the maximum homeowners exemption $94,745 equals $97,555, multiplied by the city’s levy rate of 0.007132898.)

5. When will I receive my tax bill?

The Ada County Treasurer’s Office mailed property tax bills Nov. 14. The first half of the 2016 property tax bill is due Dec. 20. The second half is due by June 20, 2017. For homeowners who pay into an escrow account with their monthly mortgage payments, the company that holds the mortgage will pay the bill. If you have not received your bill, call the Treasurer’s Office at 287-6800.

6. What if I want to challenge my bill?

There is not much you can do right now. If you have a problem with the assessed value of your home, take it up with the county assessor’s office after your next assessment comes in late May. If you think a taxing district is collecting too much, take it up with that district’s elected officials to influence their future spending decisions.

Cynthia Sewell: 208-377-6428, @CynthiaSewell

Property tax calendar

Jan. 1: Market value date county assessor uses to set property values for prior year

Mid- to late May: Assessor sends assessment notices to property owners

Fourth Monday in June: Deadline to appeal property assessment

Third Monday in August: Taxing district publishes tentative budget

First Tuesday in September: Taxing district adopts budget at a public hearing

Second Monday in September: Taxing district submits budgets to county auditor and county determines levy rate and submits all levies to Idaho Tax Commission for certification

Fourth Monday in October: Idaho Tax Commission approves levies

Nov. 1: County auditor calculates individual property tax charges and sends them to treasurer for billing

Fourth Monday in November: County treasurer mails property tax bills

Dec. 20: First half of property taxes due

June 20, following year: Second half of property taxes due