By BRIAN WALKER
COEUR d'ALENE — Jim Crowe has watched the property value of his Coeur d'Alene North condo go up while his view has gone down.
This year, the Kootenai County Assessor pegged its value at $922,181 — some $120,000 higher than the year before, when the assessor’s office said it was worth $801,474.
Although the taxable value has risen more than 15 percent in the past year, the unit’s view — obstructed by new construction — has decreased 35 percent, Crowe said.
On Monday, Crowe appealed his property assessment to county commissioners, who were acting as the Board of Equalization. Thus began the two-week period in which local property owners can make their cases to the board.
Crowe estimates the ongoing construction of the nearby 15-floor One Lakeside condo project has taken away a little more than a third of his view. All other things being equal, doesn’t that mean the value of the property has gone down and not up?
"I've lost my view of the parades and marathon," he said, adding that he still maintains a view of Lake Coeur d'Alene but not the Boardwalk Marina at The Coeur d'Alene Resort.
Crowe argued Monday that when completed, the high-rise next door further will lower his property value: After all, his future neighbors will be able to look straight into his windows.
Regardless of the merits of Crowe’s argument, it might have come too soon.
The board unanimously agreed to uphold the value the Assessor's Office determined when it sent out the notice to Crowe and other Kootenai County property owners in late May. Their reasoning? The board ruled that because assessment was made as of real estate market conditions on Jan. 1, 2019 — just shortly after One Lakeside construction began — Crowe's ninth-floor views hadn’t officially been affected.
"There have been activities this year after the valuation date that may impact the valuation next year," said Board Member Bill Brooks. "But we can't consider those for this valuation."
Board member Leslie Duncan added she didn't see anything among sales comparisons that would prompt her to reduce Crowe's property value this year.
Crowe said he was disappointed in the ruling because a Coeur d'Alene North neighbor had his property value reduced and Crowe didn't. Crowe said the neighbor didn't have a remodel done and neither did he.
Kootenai County Assessor Rich Houser said that, as of Monday morning, just 15 property value appeals covering 35 parcels were planned. The deadline to request an appeal hearing was Monday night.
"It's a very light year," Houser said.
Most owner inquiries on assessments don't result in a hearing before the board because any questions are answered at the review level.
Athol's Dennis Yates is among those who met with Houser and Brooks over his concerns about steep increases in property values.
"The reason I moved to Idaho was to get away from California and it being liberal and tax-happy," Yates said. "Idaho is too good of a state to have everyone leave."
Yates said he was pleasantly surprised he was able to meet with county leaders about his concerns.
"They were more than willing to listen, and I appreciate that," he said.
Yates didn't request an appeal hearing because he heard that values aren't reduced by the board most of the time. He suggested that Idaho should consider measures such as Proposition 13, which restricted annual increases of assessed values in California to 2 percent or less per year.
Houser said a similar proposition would need to be considered by the state Legislature, not counties.
As of Friday, the Assessor's Office had conducted about 400 appraisal reviews.
"The very low number of reviews and appeals shows me people are educating themselves on what is for sale, what has sold," Houser said.
Houser estimated that property values were lowered in about 20 percent of the appeals. Under state law, the assessor is presumed to be correct, leaving the burden of proof on the property owner.
The Assessor's Office sent out 96,412 assessment notices this year, up from 95,157 last year.
The 2019 preliminary net taxable value for Kootenai County this year is $19.2 billion, up from $17.2 billion last year. That’s an increase of 11.6 percent.
"That's a slightly-above-normal increase when compared to prior years," Houser said. "The increase is determined by the market activity. We are seeing a strong housing market with a lot of apartment complexes and commercial development."
The most recent decline in the net taxable value for the county was 2011 to 2012.