In early June, Boise Mayor Lauren McLean distributed a news release in which she pledged not to raise taxes in the midst of a pandemic.
Within a month, the first-term mayor has broken her promise. McLean’s first budget, released last week, increases property taxes and wastes millions of taxpayer dollars.
And, unfortunately for overtaxed Boiseans, the mayor’s plan offers no tax relief.
Overall, McLean proposes to reduce general fund revenue, but that is because sales tax revenue sharing, development fees, franchise fees, and fines and forfeitures are expected to go down. However, her budget increases property tax revenues.
The mayor’s 2021 spending plan calls for a 1.6% increase in the overall property tax budget. Translated: The mayor is pushing a $2.6 million increase over last year. Had McLean declined to take the growth portion of the property tax budget, and did not propose new spending for her socialist-program wish list, she could have provided property tax relief for all Boiseans.
Instead, McLean’s budget takes the growth and spends lots of money on items that many Boiseans would find objectionable. In total, a brief IFF budget review found more than $2.5 million in wasteful spending, which is outlined below:
$100,000: Alternative Transportation Culture Campaign, to cajole you to give up your car.
$50,000: Language Access Priorities, money will pay for multilingual signage.
$100,000: Training and Capacity Initiatives; $100,000 for vaguely defined use of technology to improve how the city engages with the community.
$100,000: City Go (downtown mobility); “to meet the mobility needs of businesses and individuals in downtown Boise.”
$100,000: Day Care Plan for City Employees; to allow further planning of this initiative, “Based on its preliminary review, the Human Resources Department (HR) believes the most economic approach could be to partner with local daycare provider(s) to establish a conveniently-located, single-site daycare facility to serve employees.”
$360,000: IT staffing, two line items to spend over $360,000 to increase staffing by 5 employees.
$100,000: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; for training and the development of policies and procedures.
$100,000: Strategic Planning Framework and Development; $100,000 for, “This strategic framework has informed the organization on priorities and areas of focus, helping to align citywide collaboration towards these common goals.”
$50,000: Human Rights Commission Scope; to do a study with the possibility of creating a Boise Human Rights Commission, “The Commission, if established, would be an advisory body working to eliminate oppression, discrimination, and bigotry, as well as promoting greater understanding, inclusion, and accessibility for everyone living or working in Boise.”
$732,000: Police, five new positions; “Community outreach positions include Neighborhood Contact Officers, the Bicycle Unit, School Resource Officers, and the Refugee Liaison Officer.”
$795,000: for seven different line items related to climate change including adding a full-time Energy Manager for things like solar project scoping, environmental justice, climate economy accelerator, and other energy initiatives.
Boiseans are reeling for the government-imposed Coronavirus shut down and corresponding job losses and work hour reductions. McLean should have tightened the city’s belt, avoided new spending, and passed on savings to help property tax payers during a difficult time.
Instead, she’s taxing and spending, even though she claims she isn’t.