How An Unpaid Irrigation Tax Bill Could Mean Your Property Goes To Auction

Dec 1, 2014

Irrigation district tax bills are due. For some, non-payment could mean the owners lose their property at auction.
Credit Nampa and Meridian Irrigation District

The bill you received in mid-October if you live in the Nampa and Meridian Irrigation District is coming due later this month.

Officials are reminding the district’s 38,000 property owners that they have until Dec. 20 to pay the first installment of their irrigation tax bill.

But a more dire reminder has gone out to the owners of 99 properties in the district who are as much as three years behind in their payments.

Irrigation district Secretary-Treasurer Daren Coon says final notices, a follow-up to certified letters that were mailed in August, are now in the mail.

Those property owners have until the end of this month to get current on their bill, Coon says. Non-payment triggers the process to auction the property.

It's not just your irrigation rights. You can lose your whole home. -Suzy Hewett

Many people, Coon says, don’t understand that they are responsible for the tax even if they do not use water from the irrigation district. Others assume the money is part of the escrow payment that mortgage companies make for property taxes, but that is not the case.

The confusion can lead to a home worth thousands of dollars being auctioned off to pay the irrigation district bill of a couple of hundred.

Coon calls the auction process, known as a tax deed action, a grim one.

“Tax deed action is the most unpleasant duty 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 says.

District official Suzy Hewett says the risk is confusing but important. “It’s not just your irrigation rights. You can lose your whole home.”

This past August, three properties were scheduled to go on the auction block. One owner was able to redeem at the last moment but the other two properties were auctioned. Right now, 20 properties in Canyon County and 79 properties in Ada County are delinquent. A list of the properties is on the irrigation district website.

The district serves portions of Boise, Meridian and Nampa. Coon urges anyone with questions about payments or assessments to call the irrigation district at 466-7861.

The 99 properties owe a combined $58,437.94 in back taxes.

The district, which is the largest in the state, supplies water to irrigate 69,000 acres in Ada and Canyon counties. 

Copyright 2014 Boise State Public Radio