Rep. Jim Stoicheff struck out Tuesday in his attempt to trim skyrocketing property tax assessments and allow communities to choose other forms of taxes to fund public services.
“If the people don’t want it, then they won’t vote for it,” he said of his proposal to allow local voters to approve new non-property taxes by a majority vote. Stoicheff, D-Sandpoint, said that bill would allow communities to make up revenue they lose from his proposed 4 percent limit on assessment increases - if they want to.
But the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee killed both bills. Committee members argued that Gov. Phil Batt’s property tax relief plan, which includes a 3 percent cap on increases in local government budgets, takes care of the rising assessment problem. And they said the local-option tax measure would result in a complicated “checkerboard” tax system where the taxes are different in every town and district.
Stoicheff remained unconvinced, noting that when Idaho had a 5 percent cap on increases in local government budgets, many residents still saw double-digit increases in their property tax assessments.
Among the objections to Stoicheff’s 4 percent cap on assessment increases were that it would lead to similar properties being taxed differently, and that it would move away from Idaho’s standard of assessing property at market value.
Kootenai County Assessor Tom Moore was among those objecting. “Property taxes should be equal and fair for everyone,” he said.
Stoicheff’s bill would have brought property up to market value whenever it changed hands but maintained the 4 percent limit as long as the property stayed with the same owner.
Rep. Tim Ridinger, R-Shoshone, a former mayor, urged approval of the local-option tax measure. Idaho’s Legislature has long been reluctant to grant local governments the option to tax.
“I think if you give local government options they will make good decisions,” Ridinger said. “They won’t want to run their businesses out of town. That’s why they have towns.”
But the committee rejected Ridinger’s motion, voting instead to kill both bills.