GUARDIAN Stops Lien On Home

The Nampa-Meridian Irrigation District has placed a lien on the home of a Meridian man over a disputed $4.78 late fee.

The insanity of a government agency spending untold cash to chase $4.78 so outraged the GUARDIAN that we drove to Nampa to pay the bill ourselves and put an end to the childish behavior.

The GUARDIAN was told by staff, “We don’t take partial payments” when we proffered the $5 bill. We suggested they put our $5 with the check they were holding from the Meridian man to make total payment. We walked out with 22 cents change and a receipt.

The Daily Paper’s Heath Druzin broke the story on page one Thursday. Brian Bandhauer got dinged for two years of irrigation fees.

The bill was sent to the WRONG ADDRESS for the first year. When he got the bill at the proper address it included a $3 late fee with a 26 cent penalty and $1.52 interest. Brandhauser sent his irrigation dues minus the late fee.

An officious secretary-treasurer for the district name of Daren Coon refused the partial payment and even slapped a $17.87 lien on Bandhauer home. Coon told the Statesman, “They should know as a responsible property owner they did not pay the tax.”

Right! Even when the title company collects an escrow amount each month for taxes and insurance, screwed up the billing address on the deed the guy is supposed to pay up.

The real clincher is the district doesn’t deliver a single drop of water to the resident. The developer who made a big profit off subdividing the farm land failed to provide an irrigation system. The result is homeowners have to pay for water they don’t receive or risk having their homes taken away.

The local cities and counties don’t require developers to provide irrigation systems and people like Bandhauer get bent out of shape when they get hit with inappropriate bills and are met with stubborn officious bureaucrats who won’t do the right thing.

So, Merry Christmas to Mr. Bandhauer from the Boise GUARDIAN. To the Scrooges at the Nampa-Meridian Irrigation District we suggest they work on their image and treat citizens with a little common sense.

Spending more than $4.78 in postage, wages, filing fees etc. goes beyond foolish.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. That is great! I just read the article on the Statesman and then wanted to see if the Guardian had posted anything yet. Not only do you look out for the well-being of Treasure Valley residents but you take it one step further.

    Some of these complacent government employees get a bit too much power and it does go straight to their head. And then for the district to waste more money than what it is owed is a bit disgusting.

    Are people without common sense these days to understand that you’re only hurting the organization that you work for?

    I really don’t like the idea that so many residents are getting charged for water they are not using…where is that water going and who is getting their share that is being paid by others?

    It is common practice, especially in Canyon County, for developers to block off the irrigation water and then let residents have to water their lawns on, most likely, a domestic well. That’s only good for approximately a 1/2 acre.

  2. Good for you Dave! You said it all and you said it well.

  3. I just read that story and thought how foolish on both sides but mostly the irrigation district-(Quasi government agency)

    To bad all foolish situations couldn’t be solved with a 5 dollar bill.

  4. Guardian — Thank you, you have again demonstrated your commitment to practical and simple solutions to issues that beg to be solved. I was aghast at Heath’s article and the lack of understanding by the parties involved in this, but in the end I came to the same conclusion you did…what is wrong in some our local governments. I owe you lunch…you pick the place and make sure it costs me more than $4.78. My Christmas/Holiday gift to you for another year of entertainment, thought provoking ideas and your remarkable blend of whimsy, controversy and “kicking dust” when it needs kicking.

  5. Congratulations Dave! What a nice thing you did for Mr. Brandhauser. And, what a classic example of incompotence and arrogance on the part of a government entity. One has to wonder why the person in charge of the irrigation district didn’t pay Mr. Brandhauser a personal visit or at least make a phone call to apologize for their incompetence, or make the fool Daren Coon issue a personal apology. What is happening to people today? Cal Thomas wrote a book years ago called “The Death of Ethics in America” and I find that I’m reminded of that book almost everyday when I read the news about the idiots, liars, thieves, incompetent fools, etc. who call themselves public servants.

  6. What a nice thing you did to pay the bill. Of course, the homeowner was making a really big deal over less than $5.00. I know, I know, he was making a point.

    I closed thousands of homes that are in irrigation districts but which don’t get water. This is strictly an operating and maintenance fee for the irrigation district and is usually a very small bill – the bill is not for water. When a farm is broken up into subdivision lots the practicality of providing water to all the lots may not be financially feasible except in high end subdivisions. In addition, the irrigation districts have in many cases allowed homeowners to opt out of the district. I don’t think this information is very widely distributed. The homeowner should check this out. There may be an “opt out” fee, however.

    I can’t tell you how many times when I was closing a transaction and explained to a new buyer that the property is in an irrigation district, I was told they would refuse to pay it if they didn’t get water. This was usually involving some amount around $10.00 per year.

    These same people might want to consider that if you live in the Joplin Cemetery district, for example, you will help pay for it, regardless of whether or not you have a relative buried there. The difference is that the cemetery gets paid from the county tax bill. Or consider the amount of taxes paid to the school districts by childless people.

    The title company (escrow) is responsible for having put an incorrect address on the deed. That company ought to pay you back, Guardian, and develop some good will by admitting their mistake. (If I was the closing officer, forget that part of my advice.)

    The irrigation district seems really unpleasant about this situation, but you need to understand that the employee of the district who was dealing with the homeowner might not have the authority to decide which fines or late fees can be waived. At what dollar amount should the district decide it is ok to waive? Given human nature you could expect long lines of people demanding a refund of $.67 or whatever.

    I never cease to be amazed about the obstanancy of human beings over the smallest of matters. However, I cannot say that my own response to these ridiculous situations is any different. It must be a quirky side of human nature.

  7. Clippityclop
    Dec 20, 2007, 12:59 pm

    Way to go, Dave, and a very Merry Christmas to you. I’ll pass on your goodwill to a stranger and hope your other readers do the same.

  8. I was in an irrigation district and could not acess the water and I made some inquiries and found out that I could pay a one time fee and opt out of the irritgation and no longer have to pay the annual fee. Remember this has been a few years ago (apx. 10) This may be worth looking into especially if you can’t access the water.

    EDITOR NOTE–You are correct. However, one should not have to pay a fee to be released from paying for something they don’t use. PAy me $75 and I won’t bill you for the GUARDIAN stories you don’t read.

  9. If you want a demonstration of childish behavior you ought to come over to Caldwell and check out the attitude of Pioneer Irrigation and their lawyer. They drive patrons, developers and the cities they have to work with batty. It’s their way or the highway in all instances.

    I personally went before their board to try and understand why they felt obligated to tear up walking paths near their canals when they clean them. One side can be landscaped the otherside not landscaped and guess which side they choose to destroy…you got it…the landscaped side. Their claim is that it is their easement and they will do with it what they please. If anyone else did what they do it would be considered vandalism.

    They make no effort to meet patrons,or anyone for that matter, half way. It doesn’t surprise me that the tax lien happened for such a small amount.

    If you want a fun exercise try and find out how to run for a seat on any irrigation board election. The rules are so corrupt a few farmers can out vote an entire city. One acre equals one vote in the Pioneer Irrgation bylaws.

    EDITOR NOTE–The GUARDIAN is a longtime advocate of allowing people to vote. Paul, you may have planted a seed…take over the board with residential property owners!

  10. Oh, man! Don’t get me started on the topic of irrigation districts!

    I believe they’re tenaciously clinging to the power and influence they once had, when the local economy was much more agrarian than it is now. (And their water rights give them that power – when you live in an arid climate, such as ours, water IS power, both literally and figuratively.)

    I’ve got an odd situation. We’re on the borderline between New York ID and Nampa/Meridian. We pay into one… but the closest the water gets in 2007 is a couple blocks away. The other one delivers water to the corner of our property… but in order to use it I’d have to pay a $400 join-up fee, followed by the annual assessment. Obviously there’s way too much red tape for me to trade one for the other, even though it all comes out of the same watershed.

    Another personal pet peeve about the irrigation districts – the canals criss-cross all over our valley. And people use the canal banks for all sorts of activites – exercise, recreation, non-powered transportation corridors, etc. But it’s all illegitimate – you have to disobey the “no trespassing” signs that are posted everywhere. They doggedly refuse to legitimize their precious canal banks, even though the State Legislature has indemnified them for any damages, if they make that good-will gesture toward the general public. (I’m sure we can blame the lawyers for THAT one.)

    Okay… somebody else’s turn.

    (Guardian – you are truly civic-minded! Props to you, man!)

  11. There is a way to opt out of the irrigation district if you don’t have access to the water. I think I paid the Nampa-Meridian irrigation district a one time fee shortly after I bought my house 15 years ago in Meridian. Wouldn’t it be great if all these lots paying for water but not being served could donate their allocations to Fish & Game and hold it in reserve to augment winter flows in the Boise river? Looking back on it that’s what I should have tried to do.

    Their website is here:

    To request an exclusion go here:

    EDITOR NOTE–Eric, great idea. Sell your water right to the F&G and get a tax deduction for your public service.

  12. Good one Dave! Merry Christmas to you and family.
    I’ve had to deal with 2 canal company’s and let me tell you it’s their way or the highway. It’s one of those old groups that need to have their wing’s clipped and big time. These people are just rude. They make the rule’s and to hell with the rest of the world.

  13. Good job, Fraz!
    The law that lets them continue to collect even when you don’t get water needs to be changed. If anybody else tried to bill for services they didn’t deliver, there’d be hell to pay.
    It’s just one of several legalized ripoffs in Idaho, all of which need to be eliminated.

    As for “Their claim is that it is their easement” and they can do what they want with it …”
    If it’s an easement, that means the district does not *own* the land! I live beside a canal, and the canal company has an easement, which just means it has the legal right to run the canal through private property. The easement also allows the canal folks to drive alongside the canal when needed to do maintenance, repair, etc., but it does not give them the right to destroy the land or put anything else on it.
    Idaho Power also has an easement, because some of its poles are on private land, and the Power crews sometimes need to drive to the poles to do repairs or whatever. The company leaves the poles on private property and drives to them only when necessary; it does not try to claim it has any right to do anything else with the land. Sounds like those irrigation folks over there need to be whopped upside the head with a two-by-four or something.
    Glad you bailed out the homeowner over there, but it’s too bad the thieves got the money.

    Merry Christmas, and keep up the good work!

    — gp

  14. Gee, Dave. Not only are you a secret Santa, KR referred to you as a “local gadfly”!!
    Two questions:
    1- Why are people who are obviously lacking the skills to perform a given job, (that would seem to be you Mr. Coon) allowed to CONTINUE to do a job they are obviously not capable of performing?
    The Guardian just managed to clip the bud of the weed this morning, and he should be thanked. But the weed is still firmly rooted in the soil! The Guardian will not be able to “diffuse” every conflict that will come up with these people in the future. We need to do a little “weeding” at most levels of government!

    2- What the hell is a Gadfly?

    EDITOR NOTE– GADFLY: (figurative) an annoying person, esp. one who provokes others into action by criticism.

  15. Bandhauer speaks.....
    Dec 20, 2007, 7:08 pm

    We have lived in Meridian over 7 years – Why have we never heard of the Boise Guardian before now? I am the Mrs. Bandhauer at the center of this story, and I was a little stunned to stumble across our story listed here.

    Dave, I do not know you, but you have a loyal new fan. Where oh where can we find you to bring out a gift or a donation to your organization? I would like to personally thank you for your kindness – and your outrage. On behalf of our family, we are grateful that you took a dramatic step to help. We know that others tried to pay the fees on our behalf, but they were refused (out of spite??). Of course, the money was never the issue. But the kindness of strangers has truly touched us on the cusp of this holiday season.

    Merry Christmas from a grateful family.
    Katie Bandhauer

    EDITOR NOTE–Thank you for your kind words. You can just “pay it forward” by helping others. You are an inspiration to others who believe in democracy and doing the right thing.

  16. I would think this quaint, and probably outdated Title 43 of the Idaho Statutes that Mr. Coon is quite legally operating under could be used in an effort to make Idaho look like some backwards, hick place people would not want to move to. There’s potentially a positive, no growth aspect to this situation.

  17. Rod in SE Boise
    Dec 20, 2007, 8:24 pm

    Irrigation districts are not government agencies or even quasi-government organizations, they are private entities. Therefore their officers and employees are not government employees.

    EDITOR NOTE– Sorry Rod, you are totally mistaken on this one. Idaho Code Title 43 has 25 chapters of irrigation law which details election of officers, annexation, etc. check it out here:

  18. Has anyone noticed how much power (and arrogance) an irrigation district has? They have been given God powers and they use them as an abusive god will. Look at the Idaho Secretary of States lobbyist disclosure listing. These people work very hard to keep their power.

    Now would be a good opportunity to ask your legislator to look into real abuses by a taxing authority.

  19. Guess my previous post went unread by everyone who followed me. May I repeat: the Irrigation TAX is for operating and maintenance. Everyone pays this TAX who lives in the district covered. Only people who GET water, pay for water.

    As a former escrow officer I have had many dealings with every irrigation district in the valley. Many of the people who work there are nice, others are obnoxious, but the rules they have to work with were established many years ago. The canals may serve water to fewer customers but the canals still have to be maintained. These canals were put in place before most of us were even born and are evidence of the rural life that is rapidly dying.

    The establishment of these taxing districts were to be sure the canals were maintained for delivery of irrigation water and also to preserve the integrity of the banks so that leaks or floods won’t occur. The fact that our communities have become urbanized is not the fault of the irrigation districts, they are required by law to collect the O & M fee from every property in their district. If any of you feel that these districts should cede their taxing authority you should contact your legislator and/or the county commissioners. And, again, you may be able to opt out of the tax.

    Perhaps if we all became more educated about the districts, their histories and the future of these canals (which quite literally made the desert bloom) we would find a lot less hostility toward them. Start with Stegner’s “Angle of Repose” for a story about the early years of canal building in the Boise Valley.

    Oh, and by the way, aren’t we having nasty wars in a couple of places around the globe? They sure cost more than ten or twenty buck a year. Ask George. Geez.

  20. Simple comment: Good Job

  21. When we first bought our property in Idaho, we had no idea what an irrigation district was. Our experience was similar to the Bandhauers. When we purchased the property the title company failed to notify the irrigation district of the ownership change. So the irrigation bill got forwarded to the previous owner for three years.

    Somehow we finally ended up with a bill with penalties and etc . we had no knowledge of this district previous. Well it all ended well, as the title company admitted their error and paid the whole bill.. Seems that there should be a discloser law about such things as irrigation districts, annexation and such when properties are sold..

  22. I think this whole thing just may be what will give some of us the Christmas spirit.
    A local “gadfly” (who at least half the town, most of the “media” community, and certainly the vast majority of politicians and bureaucrats, thinks is nuts) goes out of his way to help someone solve a problem that they didn’t start and are drawing a line in the sand, based solely on principle.
    He has never met these people and probably never will.

    Then the wife posts on the “gadfly’s” blog how appreciative they are and what a nice man the “gadfly” must be.

    Then a majority of readers cry “lynch the grinch”(that would be you, Mr. Coon)

    The gadfly responds to the family by asking them to simply “pay it forward”!

    The family has their home back, the grinch is banished in shame, and the “gadfly” places his stockinged feet up on the hassock and smiles. (while he pets the foo-foo)

    The only thing missing here is for someone to yell “Look everybody, it’s snowing!!” and then break into A White Christmas!!

    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to All.

    EDITOR NOTE–For a myopic sort, you have a pretty good outlook and above average comprehension level. Merry Christmas to you as well.

  23. Good for you! I think many of us were not impressed by their handling of the situation and laughs

    after all the poor publicity – seems they would meekly accept it, not babble about partial payments.

    Now he needs to make sure the lien is removed, more than once such things are “missed” or “forgotten”.


  24. I have some experience with irrigation districts. Pioneer in Caldwell has to be the worst ever. I had to pay over $3000.00 to them for a pressurized system on a lot I inherited in order to sell it.

    The lot never used a drop of irrigation water in the last 40 years. Half of it was paved. Then when they installed it, guess what, no water. No opt out program over there and no promise of water in the future either.

    It’s interesting to note that the way to win an election in Idaho is to win in Canyon County. The mental attitude of Canyon County is why common sense is not considered an Idaho family value in our State politics.

    Canyon County is a state of mind, Ada county is a state of confusion.

  25. david slaughter
    Dec 24, 2007, 4:47 am

    Dave; My 90 year old grandfather lives in Meridian and is paying irrigation tax to two different districts. He has talked to the city, county and both of the district offices.

    While he doesn’t complain about the amount of money it cost him he does want to know why he is paying two districts and can’t recieve water from either one. He has been interviewed by the Statesman who published the story earlier this year and he still has no answer. The developer of his subdivision didn’t install irrigation lines. If he indeed has to pay this tax, who has the legal rights to the money?

    My grandfather and I think this confusion should be set straight. I know the government works slow but, the man is 90 years old and doesn’t have much time to wait for an answer.
    Yours Truly
    Looking For Answers

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