A post on the Valley County Idaho Facebook page shows a picture of a misleading postcard being sent around.
The postcard states in bold at the top: “Valley County ponders tax levy for public access.” Below are four quotes talking about various county commissioner’s support and how the increase would pay for “guaranteed public access to state endowment land around Payette Lake.”
The county emphasized it is not aware of who made and distributed the postcard, so no contact has been made.
Star-News not involved
The excerpts are from an April story in The Star-News of McCall, and include the paper’s logo and name of the reporter. Star-News publisher Tom Grote tells BoiseDev they did not authorize the use of their content or trademarks on the postcard.
“I did not authorize the use of the story, but there is nothing to prevent them from doing so since it was not used for commercial purposes that would be subject to copyright laws,” Grote said.
At the bottom of the card, there is a call to action for residents to contact their commissioners and say no to a tax increase.
Trident made similar case
The postcard echoes a topic that has been widely discussed in the county since the Trident land swap proposal. In May, a spokesperson for Trident pitched BoiseDev on a story relating to the Valley County discussion and Trident’s proposal.
“It seems to me they’re proposing increased taxes to protect public access, something the Preserve McCall plan would do for free,” the spokesperson wrote in the pitch.
While the pitch for media coverage generally aligns with the messaging on the postcard, our reporting only shows that there’s alignment between messaging – not that Trident is responsible for the mailer.
The spokesperson told BoiseDev that neither Trident nor any related entities are responsible for the postcard.
“We do stand by our belief the Preserve McCall plan solves many (issues) in Valley County without burdening property owners with additional tax to pay for it,” the spokesperson wrote today.
Valley County responded to the postcard to say the card is not coming from an elected official nor an employee of Valley County. The county also debunks the quotes by saying they are from a commissioner’s meeting where they were “brainstorming ideas.”
The full version of the Star-News story makes clear the county would look to a public process. Any levy would go in front of voters before approval under state law. The county echoed the story in its Facebook post.
“Any proposed tax increase must follow a very strict process that would first and foremost include public meetings, public hearings, and public input and would only then progress to the ballot for Valley County voters to ultimately pass or fail,” the Valley County post said. “No tax changes can be made by a simple commissioner vote.”
Dave Bingaman, one of three members of the Valley County Commission, joined the United Payette group which formed this summer. That coalition says it hopes to find solutions to the Idaho Land Endowment lands in the McCall region.
The county is suggesting that the group responsible for the postcard reach out to talk about their concerns.
BoiseDev’s Don Day contributed reporting to this story.