Boise to Focus on Housing, Transportation and Property Tax in Idaho Legislature

Originally posted Dec 20, 2021

Lawmakers will meet again under the Capitol Dome for the 2022 legislative session, and Boise has plenty on his wishlist.

Last month, City of Boise Director of Government Affairs Kathy Griesmyer highlighted several things that Idaho’s largest city will be watching closely. This includes high hopes for the state to finance its Affordable Housing Trust Fund for the first time, investments in transport, and any changes to the state’s complex property tax system.

Housing, housing, housing

Additional funds and support to deal with the affordable housing crisis are a priority for the administration of Mayor Lauren McLean.

Griesmyer told city council that Gov. Brad Little had met with stakeholders on how to resolve the housing issues throughout the summer. She said that at present, the state may be injecting between $ 40 million and $ 50 million into the state’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which was established and has not never been funded in the 1990s. This would allow cities to apply for funds to develop affordable housing projects, which they could match with their own contribution in one form or another.

She said while the town of Boise may have the money for a local game to access these public funds, Griesmyer said she hoped lawmakers would allow more flexibility in matches to accommodate small towns. in the hope of carrying out projects. This could include matches like donating land or removing connection fees for affordable projects.

“This would be a really key initiative to get funded so that we can meet some of the gap funding needs that developers of affordable housing often face when trying to upgrade new developments and s. ” also ensure that math pencils are provided to them. in terms of the market asking rate versus what affordable housing prices should be set appropriately, ”Griesmyer told the council.

Keeping tenants in affordable housing that they might already have is another hope for the Town of Boise. Griesmyer said the city would continue to support any legislation protecting tenants from “lack of due process or improper evictions.”

Buses, trains and automobiles

More funding means more Idahoians are getting seats.

Griesmyer said that the combination of Idaho record budget surplus and new federal government investments will create new opportunities to fund transportation projects in Gem State. It might sound like capital to build more transit lines, cycle and pedestrian connectivity, or road projects. The city also continues to work with partners in other neighboring states to try to revive passenger rail transport in the region.

[Project could further extend north-south downtown Boise bike corridor]

The lack of a funding mechanism for public transit in Idaho crippled Boise for decades. Under the old one Mayor Dave Bieter, Boise spent years trying to get the legislature to approve the local tax authority so that Boise could ask his citizens if they wanted to impose additional sales taxes to help fund a system, but those efforts were nowhere.

Proterra will supply 12 electric buses to Valley Regional Transit, funded primarily by federal funds. Courtesy of Proterra

City council member Holli Woodings said while new federal infrastructure funding may provide one-time funds for the construction of capital projects, it still leaves the city without sustained funding to help pay for a robust system. . She said the city should start working with lawmakers to find a different way to make this service sustainable.

“In the past, this has been cataloged as ‘we need a local option tax’, but opening this conversation to ‘we need Idaho’s public transportation funding’ has been a big deal. little more resonant, I found, “she mentioned.

More discussions on property tax?

The question of how to deal with rapidly rising property tax bills has upset the Idaho legislature for years.

In the final days of the 2021 marathon session, lawmakers passed HB 389 and enacted sweeping changes to Idaho’s property tax system in hopes of lowering the property tax burden. This included a cap on how much local governments could increase their budgets, personal property tax relief, a breaker increase for low-income seniors, and an adjustment to the property tax formula.

Supporters of the bill said it would help cut spending at the local government level and prevent bills from rising quickly. But, the city of Boise and other locations in the state argued that this would only weaken the ability of local governments to finance growth with limited property tax relief. Griesmyer said now that Idaho had a year under its belt with this new legislation, other changes could come to state house soil.

“There are discussions going on about the real impacts of this bill now that cities have gone through a budget period and looked at what the incomes will look like and how that will affect growth or just the ability to expand and respond. community services and the needs that local governments provide, ”she said.

The Interim Property Tax Committee met throughout the summer and at one point considered changes to the appraisal system in an attempt to address the continued shift in the property tax burden from residential properties. towards commercial properties, but the interim committee was unable to meet one last time to formalize recommendations before the legislative session.

No more restrictions possible on local government spending

Griesmyer said another floating tax element is a possible bill that would limit the amount of money local governments can hold in their reserves to pay for investment projects. City Council President Elaine Clegg said the Idaho Association of Cities was concerned about the possibility of these restrictions.

“The Idaho Association of Cities at their recent meeting had a lot of conversation on all of these topics, but mostly on reserve funds and how HB 389 is to put some sort of draconian limit on the amount you may have in reserve fund, this can prevent a town like Melba from saving money to buy a new fire truck because they run over the limit pretty quickly, ”said Clegg. cities collects these stories to help legislators understand that they should allow cities to manage their own money. “

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