UPDATE, 1:45 p.m. Vaughn Ward's delinquent taxes were paid about 11 a.m Monday by credit card, about 25 minutes after the Idaho Statesman requested comment for this story.
Congressional candidate Vaughn Ward is delinquent on his Valley County property taxes for the fourth time since 2004, the Valley County Treasurer’s office said Tuesday.
Ward and his wife, Kirsten, own a half-acre undeveloped lot in Cascade, across a road from Lake Cascade. The lot was assessed at $96,700 for 2009. Ward recorded his deed in 2002 and has said he hopes to build a home there. A campaign spokeswoman said the Wards paid $60,000 for the lot.
The first half taxes of $414.22 for 2009 were due Dec. 20 and have not been paid. With penalties and 1 percent monthly interest, the Wards now owe $434.80.
The Wards, who rent a home in Eagle, are up to date on their taxes on a $501,600 home in Arlington, Va., according to the Arlington County Treasurer. They paid $4,389 in property tax for 2009.
Ward says the Cascade lot is worth between $250,001 and $500,000 on his Financial Disclosure Statement, filed with the U.S. House in May 2009.
But Valley County Chief Deputy Assessor Deedee Gossi said Tuesday that such a value is unjustified, in part because the lot is not lakefront. Asked how the county’s assessment and the value reported by Ward could be so different, Gossi said, “They’re dreamers. I don’t know what his reasoning is. I’ve never seen anything in Cascade that has that kind of value.”
A spokeswoman for Ward, Caroline Merritt, said that Ward has amended his disclosure statement to reflect a lower value.
"To error on the side of caution, the Wards did not want to underestimate the value of the property on their May 2009 Financial Disclosure Statement," Merritt said in an e-mail. " There has also been a significant decrease in property value in Valley County over the last year. The Wards have amended their Disclosure Statement to reflect the value of the property at less than $100,000.”
Gossi said the lot's value is likely to decline this year, as county-wide assessments are expected to fall about 30 percent. The Wards' lot was assessed at $47,200 in 2004, $78,210 in 2005, and $92,880 in 2006. In 2007, it reached $96,700, where it has remained for three years. Tax notices for 2010 will be mailed in early June.
The Wards also were late paying their Valley County taxes for tax years 2004, 2006 and 2007.
Ward is the front-runner in the May 25 Republican primary, which also includes state Rep. Raul Labrador of Eagle and Harley Brown of Idaho City. The winner faces freshman Democratic Rep. Walt Minnick in November.
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