Mayor Gordon Petrie

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Our state has again topped the list as the fastest growing state in America. People are moving here because we offer a brighter future and a way of life, they could not find in the cities they left. These folks are moving to Idaho because we offer more, not less.

In all corners of the Gem State, one can live in a city that allows for easy access to the outdoors while enjoying the conveniences of modern life—you do not have to trade a modern bathroom for an outhouse. Many of these conveniences we take for granted, such as paved roads, flushing toilets, and streets and sidewalks that drain when it rains. These conveniences are critical infrastructure that need to be properly maintained to continue to serve their purpose. If we cannot maintain them, we are in jeopardy of become a third-world state in a first-world country.

How could that happen in the fastest growing state in America? It is natural and correct to think economic growth would accompany an increase in population. A leading problem in Idaho the past several years has been the rapid rise in property taxes in areas of the state that has been in part spurred by growth. While the legislature has set out to cure the underlying problem, many of the solutions they have produced will only make things worse.

Leaders in the statehouse are considering ideas that will radically reduce how cities and counties can reasonably budget and plan for infrastructure needs. Currently, the local governments in charge of this critical infrastructure have the ability to save for expensive and long-term capital projects. One leading idea under consideration in Boise would make it against the law for a local government to save up enough money to pay for capital projects. Yes, you read that right, prudently saving up to pay for a large expense would be unlawful.

Tying the hands of local government to maintain our current streets, sewers, and sidewalks and build and maintain new ones will force choices resulting in Idaho sliding backwards into the past. Requirements to boil water, washed out roads causing detours and delays, and crumbling sidewalks should not be part of the future for any Idahoan. Idaho’s cities and counties need flexibility in order to budget for today’s needs, plan for tomorrow, and address emergencies as they arise.

The mayors and councilmembers serving throughout our state are up for the challenge of planning for and meeting our future needs. Yes, solutions need to be found to address rising property taxes, but draconian measures will only make matters worse. Idaho’s local leaders signed up to tackle problems, it’s time for the legislature to let locals lead.

We recommend legislators fix the homeowners exemption index, improve the circuit breaker, and use a percentage of the “Wayfair” funds, which are set aside for tax relief, to relieve the property tax burden on Idaho citizens. Please contact your legislators and let them know you support these solutions.

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