Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Eagle, introduced a plan Monday that could have major implications on the trolley project being pushed, among others, by Boise Mayor Dave Bieter.
The plan, if enacted, would require city councils across the state to obtain voter approval before creating Local Improvement Districts (LIDs) for special projects above $250,000. According to Labrador, LIDs are typically utilized when local governments need to make improvements to a targeted area in their own jurisdiction. Labrador said that in the past governments have used the creation of LIDS to fund lighting and road projects.
The problem, according to Labrador, is city councils that wish to use LIDS for economic development, which he believes was not the original intent of LIDS. In his testimony before the House Revenue and Taxation Committee Monday, Labrador pointed to Boise's push for a trolley system as a misuse of the special taxing district.
The trolley, designedto be built in downtown Boise, could fall victim to Labrador's plan. The project, which would be partially funded by $40 million in federal stimulus dollars, would need an additional $20 million for initial start up costs. The city of Boise has proposed creating a new LID to help pay for the construction and annual maintenance of the route. According to some estimates, the line could cost as much as $1 million a year to maintain.
According to thecity's websitefor the streetcar, the LID would create a three-tier formula for taxing those within its jurisdiction, with those living farthest away from the line paying the least. The city says the LID would cover 900 property owners.
If the Labrador plan is approved, any LID plans in excess of $250,000 would require a local government receive a vote of two-thirds or higher to proceed with the project.
The plan was introduced by a unanimous vote and will be presented for further consideration in upcoming weeks.
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