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Chobani

The Chobani yogurt factory pictured Dec. 5, 2018, southeast of Twin Falls.

TWIN FALLS — Terms are in place for the school district to pay back excess money it received from Chobani.

Twin Falls County Commissioners approved an amendment Tuesday to the agreement by which the Twin Falls School District will pay the $806,816 it owes Chobani. The company retroactively lowered its 2017 assessed property value in a June settlement with the county, and will receive the property taxes it overpaid.

All parties involved found a consensus, Superintendent Brady Dickinson told commissioners.

“I think we’re ready to move forward and close the door on this issue,” Dickinson said.

The amendment — approved by school board trustees at a Monday board meeting — does not change the amount of money paid by the district, but alters the process by which the money changes hands.

Chobani will pay half its 2019 property taxes on Dec. 20 and the county will distribute the school district’s portion on Jan. 31. The district will then have 24 hours to write a check to the company for $403,000. Chobani will pay the other half of its property taxes on June 20. The district will receive its portion on July 31 and will again have 24 hours to write a check to the company for the remaining $403,816.82.

The change will allow for an accurate audit of the school district’s budget, said Fiscal Affairs Director Bob Seaman at Monday’s board meeting.

Chobani appealed its 2017 assessed property value of more than $495 million. The county lowered the value to $424 million, and the Idaho Board of Tax Appeals further lowered the value to $393 million. But Chobani argued its property value was $176 million, and took the issue to district court.

The county and Chobani settled in June on a value of $249 million for 2017, meaning beneficiaries of property taxes — like the school district and Twin Falls Urban Renewal Agency — are forced to return the portion of revenue received from the overpayment.

Paying Chobani back that $806,000 means the district won’t be able to pay off its bonds as soon as it planned, Dickinson told board members.

“It’s a good chunk of money but its not coming out of our pocket, its coming out of our bond fund,” said Bernie Jansen, chairman of the school board.

Chobani paid the school district $85,000 in June to absolve lunch debt incurred in the 2018-19 school year.

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