Morning News-Lisa Lete
Bingham County resident and local attorney Justin Oleson emphasizes a point while shedding some thoughts on City of Blackfoot's proposed budget at a public hearing Tuesday night. Oleson strongly encouraged the city to increase its tax base by "annexing" more properties such as subdivisions outside of city limits. Oleson, who is a property owner in Blackfoot, but lives in the county, fears that the city is driving out residents because of high taxes.
As was feared, the City of Blackfoot's tax levy will increase in the coming fiscal year. However, city leaders made a move Tuesday night, following a public hearing on the city's proposed budget, that will help make the increase "less" than what was anticipated.
After listening to public comment, city leaders implemented one idea offered by regional economist and Dan Cravenss of Blackfoot. At the request of Blackfoot Mayor Paul Loomis, Cravens ( who ran against Loomis for mayor last year) offered some budget recommendations to the city. Cravens suggested that since the street department has about $1.3 million in projected carryover, that tax relief could be achieved, in part, by eliminating the street levy for two years. Cravens estimated that the savings in 2015 would be about half the dollar amount of the currently proposed property tax.
The council voted 3-1 (with councilman Chris Jensen voting no) to keep the carryover funds in street department fund as "a cushion" and that "zero dollars" will be taken from the street department as tax revenue. It's estimated that this will decrease the projected tax levy increase from 4.2 to about 3.8 percent. This is the first time in six years that the city has taken a tax increase.
Loomis, who was scolded by Blackfoot resident George Hames for raising taxes after only four months in office, maintains that the tax increase is necessary due to hefty increases particularly in utility costs and health insurance."
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