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My home, my financial albatross

Property taxes set to take a hike

This week will not be joyous for Ada County homeowners, if they pay close attention to their property taxes. Ada County Assessor Robert McQuade said last week he was mailing evidence of Boise's ongoing real estate boom, in the form of painful increases in property taxes. Because the market is so hot, McQuade said, assessed property values might burn some homeowners.

The median increase in assessed value is 17.8 percent, McQuade said. But little old Boise isn't the hardest-hit. Go to Meridian or Eagle for the real teeth-gnashing: those towns will see the largest increases, between 20 and 23 percent.

"Many people think we use a special formula to assess property values," McQuade said. "That is not the case. Our appraisers use current market data supplied to us by the Multiple Listing Service to determine what your home is worth."

McQuade would like property-tax revolutionaries to know that increases in property taxes do not mean it's party time for county budget writers. Idaho state law limits county budgets to three percent annual increases unless voters say otherwise.

So what happened to that homeowners exemption passed by this year's Idaho State Legislature? Put plainly, McQuade said it wouldn't do much for most homeowners. In many cases, that new write-off will get eclipsed by the rise in prices, he said. Homeowners with homes valued at $150,000 or less are the ones who will most likely see a reduction in taxes.