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McLean looks at proposal to raise Boise property tax less than maximum for first time in years

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During a presentation Tuesday, Boise Mayor Lauren McLean said she asked the city’s budget writers to present a budget with a smaller increase than in years past.

In Idaho, cities can raise property taxes up to three percent each year. Past city councils in Boise elected to take the increase for at least each of the past six years.

But McLean signaled during the campaign and in the months since that the she might support taking a smaller increase. For the first time Tuesday, she set a marker on what the could look like.

Two percent.

“I asked staff to model this with a two percent plus growth increase rather than the full three precent increase,” McLean told the council. “Even before this there were so many people in our community calling on us to look at how we impact housing affordability, and even more so now.”

While Tuesday’s budget presentation looked at revenue in the city – particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, McLean said the city would need to look at how it spent money as well.

“This isn’t just about cutting money,” she said. “We’ll be asking the staff to reprioritize in light of the changes the community and world have experienced and the investments to rebuild the economy. We must reprioritize department by department and respond to how the world will be different as we move through this.”

The average homeowner would pay $26.66 more in property tax at two percent. At three percent, the increase would hit $40. The estimates are on today’s property tax values – which could go up or down depending on the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the economy.

City of Boise

Council members ask for 3% data

Several members of the council asked if the city could also model on taking the full three percent. Newly-elected member Jimmy Hallyburton raised the idea of producing a version of the forecast to show how the extra dollars from a three percent increase could help vulnerable members of the community.

Lisa Sánchez asked several questions around potential continued growth in population. She noted that her family moved to the Boise area during a recession in the 1980s, and supported Hallyburton’s idea to see a model at three percent.

“I do appreciate the possibility of us looking at a scenario where we take that extra one support and use that to support possibly new Boiseans,” she said.

Such a move would ask existing citizens to pay more in property tax to support future residents.

The city also captures revenue from newly built and annexed homes. That will bring in about $2.9 million in new revenue into the city in the next fiscal year, which starts in October.

The city will hear about changes to how it spends money next week. A budget workshop is set for June 23rd.

A public hearing on the budget is currently set for July 21st at Boise City Hall at 6pm.

Don Day - BoiseDev Editor & Founder
Don Day - BoiseDev Editor & Founder
Don is the founder and publisher of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow. Contact him at [email protected].

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