Terrel Tovey

Terrel “Ned” Tovey

POCATELLO — Though assessed valuations of Bannock County properties have been on the rise lately, many local residents are finding their property tax burdens have actually gone down.

The Bannock County Commission has opted to apply $5 million in federal coronavirus stimulus assistance directly toward one-time property tax savings for residents.

The state made the federal dollars available to counties to help offset costs of funding emergency services and first responders.

Commissioner Terrel Tovey explained that the county chose to simply apply the entire amount it received toward the general budget, reasoning that the budget includes costs of funding emergency services.

“From my perspective, I wouldn’t see why you wouldn’t just directly relieve the tax burden as best as you can,” Tovey said.

The county mailed its 2020 tax bills on Nov. 23. Payments for the first half of the year are normally due by Dec. 20 but will be considered on time on Dec. 21, since the usual deadline falls on a Sunday this year. The second half is due June 20 of the following year.

No more than two people will be allowed at the front counter in the treasurer’s office at a time, and others in the waiting area will be asked to maintain 6 feet of space from one another. The treasurer’s office encourages residents to mail their tax payments or deposit them in the white drop box in front of the courthouse on Center Street due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tovey said county property owners paid $575.15 per $100,000 of assessed valuation, not counting the homeowner’s exemption, under the prior year’s tax rate. During the prior tax year, Bannock County ranked eighth in the state out of 44 counties for the urban tax burden and 16th in the state for the rural tax burden, Tovey said.

Even before the county applied the stimulus dollars for 2020, however, the county made budget cuts that reduced the tax burden by 5 percent, bringing the bill per $100,000 in assessed valuation down to $544, Tovey said.

“We worked really hard to make sure budgets did not increase and we kept budgets down because of what was going on,” Tovey said.

Tovey said the federal CARES Act funding further reduced the burden to $454.40. Compared with last year, the 2020 tax burden is $120.75 less on a home with $100,000 in assessed valuation, not factoring in the homeowner’s exemption.

“Even though their assessments went up, a lot of people have come back and said ... they have seen a decrease,” Tovey said.

Though assessed valuations have risen, Tovey noted that many residents who have recently sold their homes have benefited from a large profit.

“I’ve had people who have told me they would never be able to sell their house for what their assessment was, and then they sold it for $50,000 to $100,000 more than their assessment was,” Tovey said.