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Bannock County residents furious over high property assessments

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POCATELLO — There was chaos at the Bannock County Assessor’s Office Tuesday morning.

“The phone just rings and rings and rings so I’ve decided to come down here,” said Bannock County resident John Tonks.

Tonks joined a slew of residents lining up at the Assessor’s Office. Most of them went there to get an explanation about their property assessments.

“It went up $76,000 in one year,” says resident Christa McKee. “We haven’t made any improvements on our property.”

She’s not alone.

“Mine went up $100,000 in one year,” says Mark Davis, “Which is a 30 percent jump.”

Tonks, a lifetime resident, is thinking about leaving.

“I could just move away from this city,” says Tonks, “and move away from the problems and leave Pocatello completely.”

Tensions heightened when Bannock County Assessor Sheri Davies sat down with a group of residents.

It came to a head when she said this: “And if I need to, I’ll bring the marshal and she will help me keep order I have to keep order in a meeting that I invited you to. So I’m sorry if you thought I was disrespectful, but it’s what I had to do.”

It all started when assessments arrived weeks late. Normally they come the first Monday of June. Davies says this happened because of a new badly needed software system.

“Before we have that software up and fully functioning at its best capabilities, it will take us well over a year to get all that data in there,” says Davies. “So your first year with that software is going to be a little rough.”

Davies explains the software issues prevented them from letting the public know what was happening. And it may even have caused some people’s assessments to be incorrect.

She says other reasons people are seeing high assessments could be their place in the five-year re-appraisal cycle, and the fact that the market increased by around 20 percent last year. She says by law, she must bring assessments up to match market value.

The Assessor’s Office announced people now have until July 5th at 5 p.m. to appeal their property assessments.

Davies apologizes for not reaching out to the press to explain the situation sooner. She encourages anyone questioning their assessment to come to the Assessor’s Office and meet with an appraiser.

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