Downtown Boise

Downtown Boise, Thursday, March 5, 2020.

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BOISE — The city of Boise will not be raising property tax increases on existing properties in the upcoming fiscal year for the first time in 16 years, but that doesn’t mean taxes won’t increase.

On Tuesday, Boise City Council unanimously approved a resolution that reserves the city’s right to later recover the $4.7 million property tax revenue it passed up this year. Called “forgone taxes,” this concept allows cities to later collect property taxes they chose not to increase by the full 3% allowed by the state.

City Council President Elaine Clegg said this vote in no way signals the council’s support for taking the additional revenue from taxpayers in the future.

“Nothing in this motion forces or compels us or offers the intent we will take the forgone, but it simply gives us the right to do so,” she said.

The city’s resolution says it would not take back more than one third of the revenue in a single fiscal year and it would not do so until “Idaho is no longer in a recession as determined by typical economic measures” and no sooner than 2023.

Idaho localities have always been allowed to do this, but a recent change by the Idaho State Legislature a few months ago requires cities to reserve the right to do it up front.

The public hearing on the forgone taxes saw only Erika Schofield from Northwest Boise testifying against the possibility, saying it would raise taxes on already cash-strapped homeowners and go back on the council’s promises to provide tax relief. A few residents also spoke out against forgone taxes during the main budget public hearing.

“If you reserve a forgone amount, this makes your intention temporary and essentially meaningless,” Schofield said.

Ada County taxpayers had higher tax bills in fiscal year 2020 after Ada County commissioners voted 2-1 to claw back some of the forgone revenue the county did not take between 2006 and 2012. The county voted to take back roughly $4.5 million toward a new coroner’s office, a second location for processing driver’s licenses, some funds toward a land purchase for the sheriff’s office and a small percentage of the costs of a new jail pod, according to the Idaho Statesman.

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