January 5, 1995 in Idaho

Rathdrum To Let Voters Decide Unlike Post Falls, City Will Put Micron Tax Package To Vote

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Rathdrum voters will decide whether the city should promise tax assistance to Micron Technology Inc. in order to lure a giant manufacturing plant.

City attorney Rollie Watson said he’s been directed to schedule a Feb. 7 advisory vote, asking residents whether Micron should be offered tax-increment financing.

Kootenai County is among 13 finalists for a $1.3 billion Micron expansion plant. Five of seven county sites pitched by business recruiter Jobs Plus are in Rathdrum. Two sites are in Post Falls, where the City Council has resisted efforts to hold a vote on tax-increment financing.

But in Rathdrum, where voters recently ousted the mayor and city council president, elected officials are eager to please the public.

“In the past, the council has been accused of not listening,” said Council member Tawnda Bromley. “We need to hear from voters… to get input from them.”

Wherever the Micron plant is built, it figures to bring some 3,000 jobs and $29 million in property tax revenue. In Rathdrum and Post Falls, public services such as roads and sewer capacity would have to be upgraded substantially in order to accommodate the plant.

Tax-increment financing would allow a city urban renewal agency to sell bonds to pay for infrastructure. The bonds would be paid off with Micron’s property taxes.

Bob Potter, Jobs Plus president, said an advisory vote could backfire if residents don’t understand taxincrement financing.

“Most people relate it to tax abatement, which just isn’t true,” Potter said. “It’d be a shame if the ballot failed just because people didn’t understand… It’s complicated.”

Tax activist Ron Rankin applauded Rathdrum’s decision on the ballot measure, arguing that taxpayers have a right to decide such issues.

Watson, the Rathdrum city attorney, said public workshops will precede February’s vote to make sure residents are well-informed.

“This is a huge, huge issue,” Watson said. “… We want to make sure we have community support.”


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