Columbia, Kiona irrigation districts to merge property tax, irrigation assessments

By Kristi Pihl, Tri-City HeraldFebruary 14, 2014 

Property owners in the Columbia and Kiona irrigation districts will get one bill combining their property taxes and irrigation district assessments this year.

For the first time, billing for those irrigation districts will be another line item on their property tax statement from the Benton County Treasurer's Office.

Property tax bills for Benton County won't be mailed until the end of February, which is a few weeks later than customers usually get their irrigation assessments.

The county already was collecting the irrigation district assessments, but the billing had been separate, explained Benton County Treasurer Duane Davidson.

Some other counties in the state recently made similar changes. Davidson said it just seemed to make sense because it saves additional mailing and is more efficient.

Joel Teeley, Columbia Irrigation District's general manager and secretary of the board, said it seemed like a good idea because it will simplify taxes for the irrigation district's 9,000 property owners. The change has been in the works for more than a year.

Lorna Deckert, secretary and treasurer for Kiona Irrigation District, said the switch will make the process easier, and is being made at no extra cost to the district's 500 customers in the Benton City area.

Davidson said the same change can't be done with the Kennewick Irrigation District because the county treasurer's office is not the treasurer for KID.

The Columbia and Kiona irrigation districts had been mailing out the assessment bills, but the return coupons with payments went to the county treasurer's office. Davidson said the county has the automated equipment that allows them to process the irrigation assessment payments. It also creates an electronic file of the checks that the county sends to the bank to deposit them.

The Franklin County Treasurer's Office already mails out Franklin Irrigation District assessment statements in the same envelope as property tax statements, said county Treasurer Josie Koelzer. The payments can be mailed back in the same envelope.

The treasurer's office has been doing that for as long as staff can remember, she said.

Franklin County taxpayers should expect property tax statements to arrive in the mail around Friday.

Property taxes are due April 30 and Oct. 31 each year.

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w Kristi Pihl: 582-1512; kpihl@tricityherald.com

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