Bill Description: House Bill 247 would clarify that voters can use an initiative or referendum to reduce the property tax base budget of a city or county. It would also require a majority vote to approve any rate increase for the property tax levy.
Does it directly or indirectly create or increase any taxes, fees, or other assessments? Conversely, does it eliminate or reduce any taxes, fees, or other assessments?
Idaho law allows citizens to use the initiative and referendum process at the city or county level. House Bill 247 would amend sections 34-1801B and 34-1801C, Idaho Code, to say that, "notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, nothing prohibits the citizens of Idaho from using the power of the initiative or referendum to reduce the property tax base budget" of a city or county, respectively.
It is unclear if the initiative or referendum process has ever been used for this purpose or how effective such an attempt might be. But this clarification could at least inspire efforts to use these tools to seek meaningful property tax relief by reducing local government spending.
Does it in any way restrict public access to information related to government activity or otherwise compromise government transparency, accountability, or election integrity? Conversely, does it increase public access to information related to government activity or increase government transparency, accountability, or election integrity?
House Bill 247 would also amend Section 63-802, Idaho Code, to say, "Notwithstanding any other provision of this section to the contrary, whenever a taxing district's proposed property tax budget requires the property tax levy rate for that taxing district to increase, that taxing district must submit to the electors within the district the question of whether to approve such increase in the property tax levy rate."
The bill would also add instructions for the process, saying, "The ballot question shall be accompanied by a description of the amount by which the new levy rate would increase property taxes per one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) of taxable assessed value in the taxing district. Such levy rate, if approved, may not be increased beyond the maximum levy rate authorized by statute for the taxing district. The increased levy amount must be approved by a simple majority of the voters voting on the question at an election called for that purpose and held on the November date provided by section 34-106, Idaho Code. If the measure fails, the levy rate from the previous tax year for that taxing district must be used."
Requiring voter approval of tax increases can improve the transparency of the process, but it would be better to require that such increases receive supermajority support rather than a simple majority.