January 6, 1995 in Idaho

City Wants To Block Tax Vote

By The Spokesman-Review

Post Falls on Thursday asked a judge to put off an election that could limit the city’s ability to court large developers.

The Kootenai County Property Owners Association is trying to force Post Falls to hold a citywide vote each time the city assists developers with tax-increment financing.

Post Falls’ City Council has rejected an initiative authored by the association, and challenged it in court. But enough residents signed petitions on the matter to force an election.

Consequently, a vote has been scheduled for Feb. 7. Voters will be asked whether the city must get their approval before granting taxincrement financing to developers.

That type of financing allows a city to sell bonds to finance infrastructure such as streets and utilities to serve a new development, then use the developer’s tax payments to pay off the bonds.

Post Falls on Thursday asked 1st District Judge Gary Haman to postpone the election until its legal battle with the property owners association is resolved.

“They know they’re required by law to have an election and they want a judge to bail them out of it,” said Ron Rankin, president of the property owners association. “They have an elitist attitude where they think the people who elected them are not smart enough to understand this issue.”

But, according to the city, a vote on tax-increment financing could harm efforts to recruit Micron Technology Inc. Also, the developer of the proposed International Expo retail center is seeking taxincrement assistance.

City officials fear voters will reject the use of tax-increment financing because it has been inaccurately associated with tax abatements for developers.

Furthermore, the property owners initiative usurps the Post Falls City Council’s authority to carry out economic development projects, according to court documents filed by the city.

The property owners initiative is also “sprinkled with inaccurate and misleading references…” that could confuse voters, the city argues.

Post Falls wants Judge Haman to quickly postpone the election. If he does not, the citywide vote will go on as scheduled.

“We’re taking the steps to proceed with an election,” said city attorney Jerry Mason.

xxxx What’s next Unless it is blocked, a Post Falls vote on tax-increment financing is scheduled for Feb. 7.

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