Printed on: December 29, 2012

Madison assessor comes under fire for mistakes

By Matt Eichner
Rexburg Standard Journal

REXBURG -- It wasn't Dot Legan's fault. It really wasn't. But when she brought the Madison County commissioners a pair of large tax cancellations from the county assessor's office, Commissioner Jon Weber had had enough.

"This comes over with the attitude 'We'll let the commissioners deal with it,'" Weber said during the Thursday morning meeting. "That attitude has to stop."

In 2011, the county commissioners wrote off $111,000 in taxes due to assessor error and missed appraisals, and Weber wants to know why the county assessor, Brent Saurey, isn't being held accountable.

"Somebody needs to hold the assessor accountable for his (mistakes)," Weber said. "I'm extremely frustrated with the operation of our assessor."

Reasons listed for tax cancellations include human error, computer error, businesses packing up and moving, and other "missed" assessments like newly built buildings. Legan also said that there are tax cancellations from the Circuit Breaker program, which gives tax breaks on senior citizens who are living on Social Security.

The pair of tax cancellations Thursday, two large commercial properties, had cost the county's budget $34,000. The two commercial properties had initial combined assessed values by Madison County of more than $4 million that were reduced on appeals to the state and the assessor's office to just more than $2 million. Since they were reassessed at about half of their value, the properties needed the tax levies adjusted downward.

The problem facing the commissioners comes as the county had already set its budget based on the initial assessments.

"This has a huge effect on our budget," Weber said.