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Local leaders voice concerns over senate bill on property tax change

Posted at 6:31 PM, Feb 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-25 14:27:25-05

BOISE, Idaho — UPDATE (2/25): A bill meant to change the formula for the growth of property tax budgets and provide relief for property owners from increasing property tax added an amendment Wednesday after concerns from local officials.

This amendment comes after the Nampa Fire district and the City of Nampa voiced concerns about an annexation on January 1st where the Nampa Fire Protection District annexed area within the city into the fire district after an extensive study showed it would result in lower taxes and ultimately better service from Nampa fire

The way the bill was written would limit how much property tax the fire district can take in from new construction, capping the department's overall budget and forcing a furlough of potentially half of the current Nampa firefighters.

Now, the new amendment allows fire districts that had major annexations before July 1 to take in 100% of the tax revenue, instead of 75%.

“It just makes it so the citizens get that change without an additional tax but the fire district gets to take the annexation at the percentage that was expected at the time they reached the agreement,” bill sponsor Senator Jim Rice (R) - Caldwell said.

The City of Boise and other local mayor and leaders still have concerns about SB1108. In a press release from local mayors and leaders, it stated “SB 1108 would have a detrimental impact on local municipal governments by restricting revenues collected through new construction rolls and retiring urban renewal districts – essentially prohibiting growth paying for growth. Both of these revenue streams are instrumental in providing a revenue base to maintain existing city service levels – such as public safety, water resources, parks maintenance, etc. – to a rapidly growing community.”

ORIGINAL STORY: Nampa Mayor Debbie Kling and the Nampa Fire District voiced concerns on one senate bill they say would impact the city of Nampa's public safety if passed.

On January 1st the Nampa Fire Protection District annexed an area within the city into the fire district after an extensive study showed it would result in lower taxes and ultimately better service from Nampa Fire.

Introduced by Senator Jim Rice (R) of Caldwell, SB1108’s statement of purpose says it “changes the formula for the growth of property tax budgets and provides relief for property owners from increasing property tax.”

The way this bill is currently written, limits how much property tax the fire district can take in from new construction, capping the department's overall budget.

“Best case scenario as the bill is written, we would have to close one fire station on furlough firefighters. We would lose budget capacity significantly, so we would see a decrease in service, and it would halt the growth of the Nampa Fire Department for the foreseeable future,” Nampa Fire Chief Kirk Carpenter said.

Carpenter said if this bill passes as written, it could cause a 60% reduction in the fire department’s budget capabilities and worst-case scenario, force possibly multiple fire stations to shut down, resulting in Nampa firefighters facing furlough.

“For the citizens of Nampa, that means they will go from having five fire stations and 95 firefighters to two stations and less than half of what we currently have for firefighters,” Carpenter said.

Rice took to social media stating his intentions behind the bill.

"We printed a new bill in my committee to change the formula for property tax budgets. The reason the formula needs to be changed is that the formula for budget increases from new construction currently used increases everyone’s property taxes," Rice said in a social media statement. "The current formula uses last year’s levy rate to calculate how much is added to the amount to be collected by property taxes. Because values are going up that means this year’s levy rate is lower than last year’s. If this year’s levy rate were used instead then we would not add as much to property tax budgets and new construction would not give everyone extra tax increases,” Rice posted on Facebook.

“We’re not against limiting property tax, we want to make sure that that happens. We do believe in the intent of the bill; this one would be very bad for the citizens of Nampa,” Carpenter said.

Joint Press Release from City of Nampa & Nampa Fire Protection District // SB1108 IMPACT TO NAMPA’S PUBLIC SAFETY // On...

Posted by City of Nampa, Idaho - Municipal Government on Monday, February 22, 2021