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Boise City Council votes to hike property tax budget amidst calls for relief

Boise City Council votes to hike property tax budget amidst calls for relief

Dustin Hurst
July 22, 2020

Boise taxpayers delivered a clear, unmistakable message to Boise Mayor Lauren McLean and the city council at Tuesday night’s public hearing on next year’s budget: Stop spending and provide real property tax relief. 

On Tuesday evening, McLean’s budget cleared the first hurdle to final passage.

The budget hikes property taxes by 1.6% overall, a $2.6 million increase in raw dollars. 

At least half a dozen residents turned out to testify against the spending plan, urging council members to cut spending to provide tax relief. 

Multiple Boiseans objected to specific budget elements such as:

  • A plan to study form a daycare for city employees. Residents pointed out that a government daycare would compete with the private sector, is an ongoing expense for already struggling taxpayers, and is a non-essential service. 
  • Spending $800,000 on climate change initiatives, including preliminary studies and preparation for future spending. 
  • An alternative culture campaign to convince Boiseans to give up their cars, which was criticized both for its social engineering and as an unnecessary burden to already-struggling taxpayers. 

Idaho Freedom Foundation Vice President Fred Birbaum spoke against the McLean budget, citing his opposition to the mayor’s new spending. Birnbaum noted that many of the mayor’s line items would likely pave the path for even more spending in the next few years. 

“I believe it is important that Boise residents realize that this laundry list of new spending is just the opening bid for much more spending,” Birnbaum warned.

The taxpayers’ cries for relief fell on deaf ears, as the council gave the spending plan its initial vote of approval. The spending plan will need two more affirmative votes to secure final passage. 

Freshman City Council Member Jimmy Hallyburton, aided fellow Council Member Lisa Sanchez, attempted to strip new police spending from the budget toward the end of the hearing. Hallyburton suggested, with a nod to the national conversation about police funding taking place, that the city council study the issue further and present alternative spending proposals at a later date.  Spending proposals, he added, that would provide services to historically marginalized populations.

Ultimately, the council rejected Hallyburton’s maneuver. The council voted 4 to 2 to move the spending plan forward.

The council will take up the budget again in August. The final spending plan needs to be in place before the start of the city’s next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.

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