BOISE, Idaho — The city of Boise is not increasing property tax collections for the first time in over 15 years.
On Tuesday, all members of the Boise City Council signaled their support for no property tax rate increases, which will take a roughly $3.2 million hit out of the budget. Not taking the originally proposed 2% increase will save the average homeowner roughly $27 dollars in taxes for the year, according to the Idaho Press.
“When we originally looked at the 2% (increase) our city was in a much different place,” City Council President Pro Tem Holli Woodings said. “Now we’re realizing the impact of the pandemic, and there are people in Boise who haven’t seen unemployment after nine plus weeks, so I think there’s a lot of people in Boise who are hurting right now. As part of our community, it reflects our values to also tighten our belts just like everyone else is doing.”
In order to make the cuts necessary to absorb the hit, Budget Manager Eric Bilimoria said the city is planning on cutting $2 million from the city’s annual contribution from the general fund to the capital fund, using $950,000 from three different contingency funds and reducing the funding by $250,000 for two clean energy planning projects proposed by Mayor Lauren McLean.
The city has still not made a final decision on whether or not it will participate in Gov. Brad Little’s proposal to provide CARES Act funding from the federal government to cities to pay for public safety. In exchange for taking the funds, cities would have to not increase tax collections for the upcoming fiscal year in order to provide property tax relief statewide.
Bilimoria said officials are still evaluating the proposal’s exact parameters, but will come to council for a firm decision on whether or not to take the funds in July. If the city participates, an additional $480,000 will be available to offset some of the $2 million reduction in transfer to the capital fund.
Rapidly rising property taxes have been a major point of contention in the Treasure Valley as the area has grown. Residents have seen 3% property tax increases every year from the city of Boise in the past 16 years at least, but they have also been experiencing huge increases in their property values as the bulk of the tax burden shifts from commercial properties to residential.
Multiple bills were introduced in the Idaho State Legislature earlier this year to address the problem from both parties, but none of them made it to the governor’s desk.
“We need the public to be engaged, not just with the city but with the Idaho Legislature, because that is where the most significant change can take place,” City Council Member Lisa Sánchez said. “Do what you can to educate yourself. Listen to people who are experts to teach you this, but you have to be engaged at the legislative level, not just the municipal level.”
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