Property taxes are what make services possible for homeowners

By: 
Mayor Randy Hibberd
Last Thursday, the Association of Idaho Cities sponsored time at the Idaho State Capital for City elected officials to listen to Governor Little, Senate Pro Tempore Chuck Winder, House Speaker Mike Moyle, and others on their legislative initiatives affecting local government. 
 Later, our State Senator Abby Lee, joined Councilmember Alicia Fowler and I, as well as the mayor and councilmembers from Payette for lunch where we discussed issues facing us locally.  
 The speakers talked about the issues that were their main concerns. Senator Scott Grow of Eagle talked about how egregious the concept of property taxes is. In his words, people are taxed on their property just for sitting in their homes. 
 What Mr. Grow fails to realize is that the property taxes pay for the local services that make the home livable and make the home part of a community. 
 Property taxes literally pay for the streets and roads. They pay for the fire and police protection. Property taxes pay for the schools. The taxes pay for the libraries, the parks, the recreation, and other services. In other words, it is a local tax, on local property owners, for local services, that local residents can have a say in its spending through their local officials. The local taxing entities are limited to a 3 percent increase annually to be spread among the local property owners based on their property’s value.  
 Senator Grow is trying to limit the amount of property taxes on higher-end homes that have seen substantial increases due to market appreciation. The Senator’s solution is to take part of the property taxes away and replace them with sales tax revenue. 
 However, property taxes are the most stable form of tax. Sales tax tends to peak and valley based on consumer spending. During recessions, sales tax funds tend to drop off. In addition, the State would be able to later decrease the amount of sales tax appropriated to local government if their priorities changed, such as during a recession.  
 So, from this local government official, I would like the legislature to not adjust the amount of local taxes from property. However, I would like to see legislation that would provide more relief for lower income owner’s whose property values have increased to the point of making their homes unaffordable. The increases in higher-end homes will level out over time as market prices mellow.
 The next day, on Friday, there was a great turnout for Governor Little’s “Capital for a Day.” Governor Little brought 12 department chairpersons with him to Weiser for a town hall style question and answer session with folks from all over Washington and Payette counties. Questions were all over the board from growth, to health, to hunting, to Greater Idaho, and even one question from a 10-year-old asking about the hardest part of the Governor’s job. (His answer was managing coronavirus and saying no to friends.)
 The answers were insightful and for the most part showed that our state officials were aware of issues, what was being or could be done, and what the limitations were to providing solutions. Overall, it was informative and I think provided many with a deeper understanding of the mechanics of how their government functions.
 In City news this week, a diving team will be plunging into the Snake River to run a camera through the water intake to check for any needed repairs. (I don’t know about you, but I would not like to go for a swim in the Snake right now). The intakes from both the Snake and Weiser rivers, which provide all of Weiser’s water, were constructed in the 1960s. Scoping the intakes will let us know what shape the system is in. If the intake needs to be replaced, the City has ARPA funds that can be used for this project. If the intake is in good shape, the funds can be used elsewhere. Please keep your fingers crossed.
 Well, that’s it for this week. Keep warm out there. Weiser really is a great place to live, work, and play.

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Signal American

18 E. Idaho St.
Weiser, ID 83672
PH: (208) 549-1717
FAX: (208) 549-1718
 

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