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Franchise fees: Hidden tax that skirts accountability

Franchise fees: Hidden tax that skirts accountability

Wayne Hoffman
September 30, 2014
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September 30, 2014

During the last two decades, increasing attention on property taxes and limitations on how much property tax can be collected has prompted local governments to get creative. Cities and counties are looking for new revenue where they can outside of the property tax system. And a lot of those creative efforts get little or no notice.

My friend, Hubert Osborne, noticed one of those and complained.

Last week, the Idaho Freedom Foundation's Center for Defense of Liberty took up the issue for Hubert, filing a tort claim that suggests that the city of Nampa is collecting an illegal tax because it is assessing way more than it needs to on its sanitation contract. The small portion tied to trash collection is probably appropriate. Everything above that amount is a tax not authorized by the Legislature.

Nampa isn't the only Idaho city that's turned to franchise fees to help bring in general fund revenue. In doing so, these cities are skirting property tax limitations and imposing a hardship on people who can ill afford another government expense.

Hopefully, the Nampa case will cause Idahoans to look at their trash bill just a little bit closer and ask good questions, as Hubert Osborne did.

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