For a few moments in the House Revenue and Taxation Committee Friday, proponents of the Boise streetcar project had a clear path in moving the project forward. Then moments later, the committee reintroduced legislation designed to make the streetcar more difficult to approve for the Boise City Council.
Upon urging from chairmen Rep. Dennis Lake, R-Blackfoot, committee members voted to kill Rep. Raul Labrador's, R-Eagle, bill to require city councils creating Local Improvement Districts (LIDs) to obtain voter approval if the project exceeded $250,000. Labrador subsequently proposed a new bill.
The new bill, introduced unanimously, has a few tweaks in the language, which Labrador believes will help "to find a happy medium." The new bill increases the project amount to $500,000 and provides an alternative to obtaining voter approval for LID creation. City leaders would, under the changes, be allowed to create a petition to circulate to all businesses or homeowners within the boundaries of the proposed taxing district for approval. Signatures of two-thirds of the homeowners or business owners would be required for creating the LID. City leaders would still have the ability to present their plans for a vote of the citizens, which would also require a two-thirds majority for passage.
Labrador said his bill is intended to limit the use of the special taxing districts, which, he contends, city councils have begun using for city-wide projects or economic development ventures. He argued that those uses are inappropriate and that LIDs were never intended to be used in those manners.
The House Revenue and Taxation Committee will debate the issue further next week.
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