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Boise taxpayers: Let me know of ‘free lunch’ items in the city budget

Boise taxpayers: Let me know of ‘free lunch’ items in the city budget

Wayne Hoffman
July 14, 2014
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July 14, 2014

Kudos to KBOI-TV reporter Michael Locklear, who was somewhat skeptical about Boise Mayor David Bieter’s announcement that the city would pursue a $17 million bond that would cost taxpayers nothing.

That’s not a passing misstatement on Bieter’s part. In his State of the City address, Bieter actually says the bond “won’t cost taxpayers a dime.” He wants to use the money to fix up the city’s fire stations and training apparatus.

In the city’s press release announcing the bond proposal to pay for new fire stations and equipment upgrades, Bieter says three separate times that the plan is a “no-tax” plan. Locklear asked city spokesman Adam Park about the “no taxes” statement; Park said the money to repay the bonded indebtedness would come from the city’s existing budget.

Let’s do a reality check. The existing budget is funded by taxpayers. Taxpayers pay taxes. “Won’t cost taxpayers a dime” does not pass the proverbial duck test … if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, looks like a duck it’s a duck. Of course, there is a cost to the taxpayers.

By Bieter’s reasoning, nothing in the city budget costs taxpayers. Therefore, he could argue that it cost taxpayers nothing for the city to hire new police officers, remodel City Hall or contract with a lobbying firm. In that case, Bieter isn’t being creative enough; he might as well offer all city residents a puppy and a pickup truck, at “no cost” to taxpayers. But maybe I’m not being creative enough.

Write me and tell me what other things Bieter might consider that “won’t cost taxpayers a dime.” Maybe there is such a thing as a free lunch.

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