Jail phones

Inmates go about their daily routine at the Canyon County Detention Center, Friday, Aug. 17, 2018.

Canyon County has asked voters four times since 2006 for an increase in property taxes to fund a new county jail, writes Idaho Press reporter Rachel Spacek. On Thursday, the Board of Canyon County Commissioners asked Idaho legislators, “What else can we do?”

Commissioners Tom Dale and Pam White met with legislators on to ask about a local sales tax to help fund a new jail. Idaho legislators have been historically opposed to local option sales tax, a voter-approved tax that would allow cities or counties to impose an extra sales tax to fund a specific project.

White asked the group of legislators — Sen. Jim Rice, R-Caldwell; Rep. Gary Collins, R-Nampa; Sen. Jeff Agenbroad, R-Nampa; Rep. Rick Youngblood, R-Nampa; Rep. Scott Syme, R-Caldwell, and Rep. Tammy Nichols, R-Middleton — to raise their hands if they approved of a local option sales tax. None raised their hands.

“People throughout the state are saying, ‘We do not want to pay for jails through our property tax’ and this option is to have authority to ask our voters to see if we can get a local option sales tax,” Dale said.

Collins, chairman of the House Revenue & Taxation Committee, said his concern is the local sales tax would negatively impact businesses, meaning people would go to neighboring Ada county to shop instead of Canyon County.

“I don’t think local option sales tax is a good option,” Collins told commissioners. “It will make the retailers not competitive. In my committee and my own feelings, I don’t see anything moving forward in local sales tax option.”

You can read Spacek's full story here at idahopress.com (subscription required), or pick up today's edition of the Idaho Press.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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