Boise County bailout sees new life in Idaho House

Boise County bailout sees new life in Idaho House

by
Idaho Freedom Foundation staff
March 27, 2012
Idaho Freedom Foundation staff
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March 27, 2012

The Idaho House Monday revived legislation to assist Boise County in paying off a $5.4 million judgment. This bill differs from an earlier one in the session in that it requires a simple majority vote of county residents to approve a higher tax rate rather than no vote and the new bill contains a sunset clause limiting the tax increase to five years.

Below is the story from the Idaho Statesman.

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House committee passses amended Boise County bailout bill Monday

9:44am on Mar 26, 2012; Modified: 6:31pm on Mar 26, 2012

About a week ago, state lawmakers rejected a new law that would have allowed taxing districts facing large legal judgments to raise taxes above a state cap without a public vote.

House Majority Caucus Chairman Ken Roberts of Donnelly had sponsored the bill in the hopes of helping Boise County, which must pay off more than $3 million on a $5.4 million judgment.

Proponents said the bill could make it easier for the county to get a long-term bond to pay the judgment over time, while critics said it was too far-reaching because it allowed tax increases above a state cap without a public vote.

Roberts amended the bill and reintroduced it Monday. The bill, which cleared the House Revenue and Taxation Committee Monday, requires residents to approve the county's plan by simple majority, according to the Associated Press.

Roberts told the Idaho Statesman Monday afternoon that the House committee added a sunset clause; the law would expire in five years.

Fry, who wasn't able to be at the capitol Monday due to a commissioners meeting, said he hoped the bill would be passed by lawmakers and sent to the governor by Wednesday. Roberts said absentee ballots need to be printed by Friday.

Boise County still owes $3.1 million, plus interest, on a $5.4 million judgment awarded to the Boise development firm Oaas Laney. In 2010, a federal jury said Boise County violated the Fair Housing Act in its handling of an application for the proposed Alamar Ranch teen treatment center.

In November, U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill ordered the county to pay $2.25 million by Dec. 21, then a minimum of $811,000 annually. He ordered the county to raise property taxes as much as needed to meet the annual payments and to seek a summary judgment if the tax commission refused to authorize the levy.

Fry said the county has not yet filed its suit against the tax commission. He said even if lawmakers approve Roberts amended proposal, a suit against the tax commission will be filed.

"Winmill's order requires a suit be filed," he said.

If the proposed legislation passes, and the levy receives more than 50 percent of the vote, the suit may be withdrawn, Fry said.

Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/2012/03/26/2051330/lawmaker-plans-to-introduce-amended.html#storylink=cpy

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