Idaho Cities, Counties Speak Out Against Property Tax Freeze Bill

Feb 12, 2020

City and county officials from across Idaho pleaded with state lawmakers Tuesday to not freeze their ability to raise property taxes for one year.

The bill from House Majority Leader Mike Moyle (R-Star) would halt property tax hikes, aside from school districts, unless two-thirds of voters say they’re cool with it.

Madison County Commissioner Brent Mendenhall said he traveled from “the tundra of Idaho” to testify against the proposal.

“This is not a pause or a slowdown. House Bill 409 is slamming on the brakes on an ice-covered road,” Mendenhall said.

He notes it wouldn’t be the end of the world, but a freeze could force his department heads to cut back on the number of EMTs they send out on emergencies or prioritize plowing major roads over rural ones.

Other commissioners from rural counties said they’d have to delay critical upgrades, including making buildings compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act to avoid a potential lawsuit.

Moyle says he gets it. But while responding to Nampa’s finance director, he says folks should worry about people who might get forced out of their homes because of rising property taxes.

“I understand your concerns because we’re asking you to do something that’s hard and it’s really been easy when all you do is just get this money rolling in from new construction and everything else and we’re saying take one, small portion of your budget and freeze it,” Moyle said.

“But I think you need to look at the people on the other side paying the tax.”

Moyle said once a freeze is in place the state legislature would work with local governments to hash out some kind of a solution over the next year.

The hearing on his bill will continue Wednesday morning in the House Revenue and Taxation Committee.

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