Bill Description: House Bill 311 would require a public vote before a taxing district can spend more than $25,000 on a public art project.
Analyst Note: House Bill 311 is similar to House Bill 253, but it has several significant changes that make the bill less valuable to taxpayers. Where House Bill 253 required a vote for public art projects over $10,000, House Bill 311 increases this threshold to $25,000. House Bill 311 also lowers the vote threshold required to approve such expenditures from a two-thirds majority to just 60%. Finally, House Bill 311 exempts any "public art proposals for which funding has been appropriated, budgeted, approved, or otherwise committed prior to July 1, 2021." This exemption would allow taxing districts to rush through the approval of wasteful projects before the deadline.
Does it in any way restrict public access to information related to government activity or otherwise compromise government transparency or accountability? Conversely, does it increase public access to information related to government activity or increase government transparency or accountability?
House Bill 311 creates Section 63-1317, Idaho Code, to require a public hearing before a taxing district "may appropriate, budget, or commit any property tax revenues for the design, construction, installation, or purchase of public art."
If the total cost of the art project is less than $25,000, "the governing body of the taxing district may approve the expenditure by a two-thirds (2/3) majority vote if the governing body is composed of elected officials."
The most valuable part of the bill would apply when the total cost of the art project is $25,000 or more. In that case, "the expenditure must be approved by a sixty percent (60%) majority of the qualified electors of the taxing district voting on the question at an election held for that purpose ..."
In addition to potentially saving taxpayers money and reducing unnecessary government spending, this bill could help hold local taxing districts accountable by requiring them to inform the public and get its approval before approving costly and wasteful vanity projects.