SB1111 would establish districts for local elections, requiring city council members to be elected by district within their city. This bill was introduced, passed and signed into law by Governor Little during the 2020 Legislative Session. However, three issues were identified and need to be addressed before the new law is implemented:
- Timeframe for the creation of the districts
- Clarify process for drawing and deciding on districts
- Clarify process for implementing districts
The cities of Boise, Meridian and Nampa worked with Senate President Pro Tem Chuck Winder and Brian Kane from the Attorney General’s Office to address these concerns. Recommendations include:
- Time the drawing of the council districts with the U.S. Census. This will help ensure that the districts are representative of the community and prevent cities from needing to re-draw maps within a two-year timeframe.
- Extended the implementation timeframe for city council districts to match the State’s reapportionment timeline. This will save taxpayers an estimated $75-$100,000 per boundary drawing cycle.
- To comply with the staggered city election requirement and to transition into council districts, city council elections in 2021 will be done via an at-large process for a two-year term and then will transition into council districts for four-year terms in 2023 for individuals elected to odd numbered districts, and two-year terms for individuals elected to even numbered districts.
- Districts would be drawn by a committee to establish a process that is workable for each respective community.
- Each city’s County Clerk would serve as a non-voting ex officio member to assist the committee with precincts, boundaries, and any other districting issues.
- Sitting city council members would be able to serve the remainder of their term.
We are also tracking SB1108, which would have devastating impacts to city budgets, if passed. The proposed bill would prohibit growth paying for growth, by blocking an instrumental resource that is essential to maintain existing city service levels – such as public safety, sewer services, parks maintenance, etc. – for a rapidly growing community. While the City of Boise strongly supports providing much needed relief to residential property taxpayers, capping local government budgets and revenues will only result in a loss of critical city services that our residents need, deserve and expect, while ultimately failing to deliver property tax relief.
For example, in 2020, the City of Boise took a 0% base increase in property tax due to several cost savings measures that resulted in a year over year reduction of 1.1% in the total General Fund budget. Despite the budget reduction, the owner of an average priced home would have still seen an increase in their property tax budget, if not for the City’s participation in Governor Little’s one-time property tax relief program.
Instead of capping local government budgets, the City of Boise is advocating for the prioritization of re-indexing the homeowner’s exemption, allowing for enhancements to the circuit breaker program, and authorizing expanded use of development impact fees. If the Idaho Legislature were to adopt these three measures alone, residential taxpayers would see immediate, permanent, relief and it would decrease the burden on local governments that need to provide additional services as their communities grow.
Follow the progress of both bills: