According to the Idaho State Tax Commission, Oneida County has taxing authority to operate a “weather modification district.” Officials at the tax commission aren’t quite certain what the district actually does. In fact, neither the Oneida County clerk nor the chairman of the Oneida County Board of Supervisors has ever heard of it.
“I think it has something to do with cloud seeding,” said Liz Rodosovich, spokesperson for the tax commission. She told IdahoReporter.com that, according to state records, Oneida County’s weather modification district has not levied any taxes since the late 1970s, but it remains listed with the commission as a legitimate “taxing district.”
According to Idaho state law, a county-based weather modification district is to be governed by a board of directors and the board shall in turn “conduct the affairs of the district.” Without ever specifying the precise purpose or function of a weather modification district, the law nonetheless stipulates that “the board of trustees shall certify a budget to the board of county commissioners to fund the operations of the district,” and that “the board of county commissioners may levy annually upon all taxable property in the weather modification district, a tax not to exceed four (4) mills, to be collected and paid into the county treasury and apportioned to a fund to be designated the ‘weather modification’ fund, which is hereby created.”
According to Rodosovich, the first year the Oneida County weather modification district levied taxes was 1977; it collected just slightly more than $5,000. In 1978 and 1979 it increased that number substantially, collecting slightly more than $21,000 during both years. Tax commission records indicate that the district hasn’t levied any taxes since then.
“If this is an active board of directors, I certainly don’t know anything about it,” Max Firth, chairman of the Oneida County Board of Commissioners told IdahoReporter.com. Like Rodosovich, Firth surmises that the original purpose of the district was to engage in cloud seeding, but he added that “during my tenure serving as a commissioner we certainly haven’t made any weather modification district appointments and I’ve never even heard about this.”
“I’ve never heard of the weather modification district either,” said Sen. John Tippets, R-Montpelier, who represents Oneida County in the Idaho Senate. Tippets told IdahoReporter.com that he is aware of considerable discussion about the possibility of cloud seeding many years ago, and that cloud seeding may have occurred in prior years, but he is uncertain whether or not it happened or whether such cloud seeding occurred in Oneida County, or in neighboring Franklin County.
The original county document that notes the creation of the Oneida County weather modification district can be found HERE, while the tax commission’s listing of the district is HERE and the law that allowed for the creation of the district is found HERE .