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NMID: $10 million of property could be auctioned due to unpaid irrigation taxes

Posted at 2:23 PM, Nov 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-08 10:51:46-05

Nearly 100 Ada and Canyon County properties -- worth a total assessed value of more than $10 million -- face the possibility of being sold at public auction, because their owners have failed to pay an average irrigation tax debt of just $73, according to officials with the Nampa and Meridian Irrigation District.

There are 94 properties, 86 in Ada County and eight in Canyon County, included in the tax deed action. In fact, the District says one Boise property with a 2016 assessed value of $521,400 could be sold at auction, because a total tax bill of just $145.63 remains unpaid.

Another Boise property with an assessed value of $331,300 could be sold to recover $242.30 in unpaid taxes. The assessed values come from Ada County Assessor online records.

“The action comes because the property owners have failed to pay their irrigation taxes for the past three years.  The tax deed action, as it is known, is mandated under state law for the delinquent tax payments,” said NMID spokesman Daren Coon. In this case, the unpaid taxes are for 2013.

NMID says it mailed certified letters in August to the 94 property owners officially notifying them that, unless action is taken by the last day of December 2016, their properties will be put up for sale at public auction.

Only 52 of the owners actually accepted the certified letter, according to NMID.  The District is publishing the names and address of the remaining 42 four times this month in local newspapers. In addition, a final warning will go out later this month.

“Tax deed action is the most distressing action we are required to take against land owned by our patrons. It represents a last-ditch measure the District goes to great length to prevent but which state law demands if the taxes are not paid,” Coon stated. “Fortunately, these properties represent just a tiny percentage of our 38,000 property owners in the District.”

The property owners have until December 31 to pay at least their delinquent 2013 tax bill or the full three-year tax bill prior to the auction.  Otherwise, the tax deed action will commence -- meaning the properties could be sold at auction in August, 2017 for the taxes owing, plus additional legal and administrative fees. Most property owners pay up prior to that; but each year, some properties do end up being sold at auction, Coon added.

Coon said the problem sometimes grows out of a mistaken belief that property owners do not need to pay the annual assessment, because they do not receive or use irrigation water. In other cases, property owners assume the irrigation tax payment is part of their escrow tax payment being made by the mortgage company -- but it is not.

The taxes are used to pay for operation and maintenance of the canals, laterals, drains and dams that make up the District's water delivery system. Levies also are assessed against individual subdivision parcels using pressurized irrigation systems in subdivisions around the valley.

Those who own property inside the District and have questions about their tax assessment payment or the Nampa and Meridian Irrigation District should call the District office at 466-7861