POCATELLO, ID–Pocatello For Accountable Government Entities, a local watchdog group that seeks to increase government transparency, recently offered advice to community members who are shocked by the increase in their property assessments. In a June 11 post on their social media site, they wrote:
We are ALL frustrated with property taxes! What can you do?
#1 We allowed overspending to happen in government by not being engaged citizens. Civic duty extends beyond voting. Your elected representatives NEED TO SEE YOU! When we sit behind electronic screens without ever attending City Council, County Commissioner or School District meetings, we become faceless social media junkies doing nothing more than complaining. PUBLIC PRESENCE puts pressure on elected and non-elected decision-makers!
By the time the City or County budgets make it to a public hearing, they’re a done deal. To have impact, the mayor and council members NEED TO SEE large numbers of peaceful but concerned citizens. Plan to arrive by 5:45 p.m. at a Council meeting, which is every 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month. The next meeting is Thursday, 06/16/22 at 6:00 p.m. A clarification meeting is held at 5:30 p.m. (a pre-meeting rehearsal). You must sign-up to speak during public comment BEFORE the 6:00 p.m. official meeting starts. Public comment is always at the end of the meeting’s agenda. Three (3) minutes is the limit per speaker and total testimony time is limited to (15) minutes. The Mayor/Council will not respond to any questions during the Public Comment period. RESPECTFULLY, express your opinion and tell them what you expect from your tax dollars this budgeting cycle. Tell them whether or not you approve of increased spending. Public speaking can be intimidating, but more of us need to do it. Alternatively, consider making/bringing a sign instead!
#2. CONTACT your elected representatives by PHONE AND EMAIL! Share your circumstances and story. Let them know what you expect from them. For Pocatello residents, the city’s levy is at least HALF your tax bill. Do you want the City of Pocatello to increase their spending “tax ask” by up to 7% (more than double what we have seen in the past)? Do you want them to cut their “tax ask”? The other half of your taxes is approximately 25% County and 25% SD25. Let your City, County and School District know you are watching and what you want from them this budgeting cycle.
#3. If you believe your 2022 assessment exceeds market rate, first contact the Bannock County Assessor for information on your assessment. If you still disagree with their assessed valuation, APPEAL it. The “HOW” is on Bannock County webpage which offers downloadable forms and hearing process information. You will need to provide evidence such as recent, similar-sized home sale comparisons in your area. The valuations prices are based on market values as of January 1, 2022. Consider providing pictures at your Appeal as visual “evidence” why your home is NOT equivalent to “similar-sized homes” sold recently in your area – focusing on maintenance issues and outdated features. Do your homework. There is a wealth of online information online on how to appeal property assessments.