Boise Mayor Lauren McLean has proposed a “two percent plus growth” property tax increase for Fiscal Year 2021.
Because the city can legally take up to three percent plus growth, McLean is presenting her recommendation as an exercise of fiscal restraint. “Even before this [coronavirus pandemic], there were so many people in our community calling on us to look at how we impact housing affordability, and even more so now,” she told the city council.
Some members of the city council want more, however. Councilman Jimmy Hallyburton suggested taking the full three percent plus growth property tax increase but using the extra one percent for more social programs.
Boise’s property tax revenue will increase substantially this year even without any rate increases due to annexation, new construction, and other growth within the city. The city will already see a revenue increase of $2.9 million just from these sources.
The proposed rate increase will add another $3.2 million (at 2 percent) or $4.8 million (at 3 percent) for a total revenue increase of $6.1 or $7.7 million.
Property tax increases are particularly harmful to those on a fixed income because the increases tend to rise much faster than inflation and related cost-of-living adjustments.
In Ada County, the median property tax bill increased by 79 percent from 2000 to 2018. Prices overall rose 44 percent during this same period.
In cities like Boise, the rate of increase is even greater due to the city’s propensity to raise taxes and rapidly rising property assessments. Becky Boyd, a Boise homeowner profiled by the local media last year, saw her property taxes increase by 119 percent in just one 10-year period. Her $1,747 property tax bill in 2008 had jumped to $3,829 in 2018.
Rising property assessments continue to push up taxes, especially in areas like the Boise Bench, where median assessment values have increased by a combined 32 percent over the last two years.
Compared to other cities in Ada County, Boise has the highest per capita property tax collection by a significant margin, averaging $693. The city of Eagle, meanwhile, despite its reputation as a wealthy community, has a per capita property tax levy of just $132.
The state legislature has the authority to rein in local property tax collection, but despite the introduction during the last session of several bills to reduce property taxes, none of the proposals became law.
The right-of-center Idaho Freedom Foundation called McLean’s proposal “not a tax break” and called on the city “to lower taxes by cutting out non-essential expenses, or at least freezing tax collection to be the same as it was last year.”
A public hearing on the city budget is scheduled for 6:00 PM, July 21 at Boise City Hall.
Tags: Ada County, Boise, property taxes, taxes