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Batt To Add Flood Relief To Tax-Cut Bill

Gov. Phil Batt will ask the Legislature to add an emergency provision to the property-tax-cut legislation he pushed through last year, allowing flood-damaged counties to raise property taxes for emergency repairs.

“We need to have all of our financial resources available to rebuild from this horrible disaster,” Batt said.

Idaho also will receive federal disaster relief. But some of the federal dollars require a state or local match of 25 percent.

The bill passed last year gave property taxpayers a $40 million tax cut and also placed a 3 percent limit on growth of local government budgets. It didn’t include any exceptions for emergencies.

County Administrator Tom Taggart said Kootenai County isn’t likely to impose an extra property tax for flood damage, but highway districts and counties such as Shoshone and Benewah which handle their own road maintenance may be harder-hit.

George Currier, civil defense director for Benewah County, said his county’s tax base has been severely affected.

“That might be a start,” he said of the emergency provision, “but it won’t provide the funds we need for rebuilding, because our economic base has been partially destroyed.”

“What the flood has done to us, it’s taken away better than 70 percent of our economic base right now for the short term. The mill is closed, 70 to 80 percent of our roads have major damage, 117 homes have been totally inundated.”

Hard-pressed Benewah and Shoshone county commissioners weren’t available for comment Monday.

, DataTimes

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