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Let's Talk About Taxes, Again

Ada County Assessor Popular in the Wrong Way

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Try as he might, Ada County Assessor Bob McQuade can't seem to shake the impression that he drives a fancy car and lights cigars with property tax bills. In the last couple of weeks, his office has sent out a video explaining how Boise's skyrocketing property taxes are calculated. That was after he penned an op-ed essay that ran in The Idaho Statesman explaining that he, too, had to pay high taxes and no, his office wasn't getting a fat new budget as a result of county budget cap policies.

It's not working. Last week, more than two dozen teed-off taxpayers "stormed" his office, according to a report on KBCI Channel 2. The visitors, mostly from Boise's Mesa Vista neighborhood, were fed up with jacked-up property taxes. It took a sit-down meeting and a promise to send out new appraisers to calm the crowd down, he said.

"I wish I was popular in a different way," McQuade told BW. "I get the question all the time: What are you guys doing with all that money?"

Passing it right along is what he's doing. Now the Ada County Commission is coming to McQuade's defense, and the message is: It's the Legislature's fault.

"As a county government, we only have the authority to collect the taxes, but once collected, we simply disperse those funds to the appropriate taxing district," said Ada County Commissioner Judy Peavey-Derr. By law, budgets cannot increase by more than 3 percent.

"Until the legislature can revamp the property-tax law, Idaho counties have no choice but to continue calculating property taxes as they historically have," said Ada County Commissioner Rick Yzaguirre.

Help, or something like it, could be on the way; Governor Jim Risch now seems ready to set a date for a special session on property taxes as soon as the state gets new income reports at the end of this month.

"I feel strongly about property tax relief," Risch said in a recent interview. "I want to get that done."