DEFCON 1: Idaho Property Tax Crisis Explodes
There’s a possibility Idaho legislators could be going back to work this summer. Not for the reason some expected. When the House of Representatives recessed instead of adjourning, it allowed the House to come back and work distribution of relief money from the federal government. If needed. The Senate adjourned, but if House is back in session, the Senate will need to return within a couple of days.
Many would otherwise be kicked out of their homes. Now as many as four thousand face that possibility.
I’ll make a prediction. Both chambers are coming back before Labor Day but to work on a much more pressing issue. Property taxes. Specifically to address the fallout from HB 389, a bill passed late in session. There are some sudden warning alarms going off over some unexpected consequences.
While the exemption on homeowner property tax increased by 25 percent, the Idaho Capitol Sun now reports thousands may lose access to something known as the “circuit breaker”. It offers relief to mostly senior citizens on fixed income. Many would otherwise be kicked out of their homes. Now as many as four thousand face that possibility.
Meanwhile, Caldwell has put the brakes on development. Because of some first year exemptions, some city budgets can’t be stretched to provide additional services (police and fire come to mind) for new neighborhoods. Not if they don’t have funds available for 12 months.
How many legislators actually read the bill before passage? One explained to me last week it’s a bad bill but was considered a good faith effort at addressing a brewing crisis.
The Governor signed the bill but didn’t seem enthused. Some political insiders told me if he hadn’t signed, he would face attacks next year that he did nothing as the property tax crisis festered.
The situation is spinning out of control. If moratoriums on development spread across the state like wildfire, a booming economy could suddenly come to a stumbling halt.
The property tax issue is complex. I sympathize with legislators looking for answers and, yet. It looks like things have suddenly gotten much, much worse!