A Message of Irresponsibility From LPOSD
Guest editorial by Brian Stutzman
A year ago I joined with Representative Doug Ricks (R-Rexburg) in writing and passing HB 103, the law that says all levies will have a financial disclosure on the ballot. The bill passed unanimously in both the Idaho House and Senate and Governor Brad Little signed it into Idaho Law in March 2019. It became Idaho Law July 1, 2019.
Like all laws, it was intended to be followed. For those unfamiliar with the details, this new law requires that certain verbiage for all levies be put on every ballot that explains what the levy will cost each year in terms of each $100,000 of taxable property they own under current conditions. This allows a taxpayer to see what a proposed levy will cost them in terms they are able to understand. The reason for this new law was a taxing district I live in doubled a levy. Not a problem except they told everyone publicly that taxes would due to growth in our tax base. When the tax bills came to property owners about a year taxes almost doubled, being only slightly offset by about 6% tax base growth.
I do not live in the LPOSD and I am not familiar with the needs or reasons why or why not to vote on the levy November 2019. So I make no comment on the levy itself. But what I do know is that the ballot did not have the required levy language, making it, in my opinion, an illegal ballot and should be voided. Recently I have learned that a local group, Idaho Tax Watch, through their website and Facebook page, has found and posted documents that seems to cast unfavorable light on the activities of LPOSD. It appears the day after the election the district engage a law firm at the cost of about $10,000 to help them navigate their ballot omission.
Further, Idaho Tax Watch has posted other papers showing the district had doubled down and committed to spend about $60,000 or more in defending their ballot omission against a suit filed by a local resident. This is taxpayer money, intended to educate your children!
I would think the wise and prudent thing to do is for the LPOSD to admit they did not follow the new law, they made an error, void the election, and rerun their levy correctly. Why they are doubling down and spending your tax dollars to defend their error is baffling and certainly seems to send a message of irresponsibility to the community and to our children.
Stutzman is an author, historian, and landlord in Idaho Falls.
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