Guardian Top Stories

ACHD Proposes To Give Commercial Vehicles “Free Ride,” Stick Little Guys With Tax Hike

Ada County Highway District Commissioners will consider a craftily worded fee hike proposal at their July 11 noon meeting which places new fees squarely on the back of small passenger car owners while exempting the rigs that chew up our roads.

The proposal, which is planned for the November 6 ballot, sets forth a fee schedule that deceitfully and deceptively excludes commercial vehicles like those fleets owned by Idaho Power, UPS, Fed-X and others who profit from using the Ada highways and streets and obviously inflict more damage than small “four wheelers.”

The GUARDIAN noticed the disparity in the existing fee schedule after it passed 10 years ago, but “the voters had spoken.” This time we want to let folks know in advance they will in essence be subsidizing all the big (and small) businesses using our roads to turn a profit. Even more insidious is the provision to make the fee hike permanent until repealed by voters.

Under the proposal, the fee schedule would be tacked onto the standard Idaho State registration fees. Here is the dirty little secret:

Each pickup truck and each other motor vehicle having a maximum gross weight not in excess of eight thousand (8,000) pounds, designed for the purpose of carrying passengers, and not used for hire:

Vehicles seven (7) or more years old ……. $42.00
Vehicles three (3) to six (6) years old ……… $63.00
Vehicles one (1) and two (2) years old ………… $70.00

Each motor vehicle, equipped to carry passengers and operate primarily for hire and each school bus, identified in I.C. 49-402(2) $28.00

Each motorcycle and terrain vehicle $14.00

That the duration of the local vehicle registration fees implemented and collected will continue until altered or repealed by voters. Upon approval of the electors, the existing 2008 authorization of the local vehicle registration fees shall be repealed on January 1, 2019.

We see this exemption for any truck over 8,000 pounds to be nothing less than a “payoff” to the business community to garner support for the proposed fee hike on the backs of the little guys. The wording “not in excess of 8,000 pounds” is obviously meant to avoid the phrase, “VEHICLES IN EXCESS OF 8,000 POUNDS WILL NOT BE TAXED.”

Here is the complete agenda proposal as well as the proposed ballot language.
Resolution 2242 2018 Vehicle Registration Fee Resolution and Ordinance Notice of Public Hearing

Idaho Code 40-1416 is the enabling legislation allowing the ACHD to impose fees. We cannot find any exemption for the commercial vehicles. Also it appears to us 40-1416 limits rates, but does not specifically exclude ANY vehicles.

Any legislature willing to seek an AG opinion would certainly be welcomed. (“Are any vehicles specifically exempt from paying local highway district fees when otherwise authorized by Idaho Code?”)

Three I-84 Crash Victims Served In USAF, New Wider Overpass Likely

Officials at Mountain Home Air Force Base confirmed the identity of three victims in the fiery I-84 crash were members of the U.S. Force.

Here is the Air Force media release:

Three Airmen from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, were killed in the accident Saturday night on Interstate84 in Boise, Idaho.

The Airmen have been identified as Senior Airman Carlos V. Johnson, 366th Civil Engineer Squadron, Senior Airman Lawrence P. Manlapit III, 391st Fighter Squadron, and Senior Airman Karlie A. Westall, 366th Operations Support Squadron.

“I am devastated by the loss of our Airmen,” said Col. Joe Kunkel, 366th Fighter Wing commander. “The upcoming weeks will be tough on all of us, but I know the Gunfighter family will pull together to support each other as well as the family and friends impacted by this tragic event.”

Officials of the Idaho Transportation Department and the Ada County Highway District have been meeting to work out repairs to the damaged Cloverdale overpass. It looks like they may rebuild the bridge as a four lane overpass to help deal with the heavy volume of traffic.

While no direct cause of the fatal crash which claimed four lives has been revealed, both ACHD and ITD are reviewing their construction zone warning policies. The GUARDIAN has noted the need for extended warnings with cones, barrels, and flashing lights since speed limits and traffic have both been increased.

ACHD To Propose Tax Hike

The IDAHO PRESS reports Ada County Highway District Commishes are planning to put a tax hike proposal on the November ballot.

Before they make the request ACHD would be well advised to work toward a fair tax that would not see us honest folks paying the bill for the commercial users and rental car companies who profit from using our streets and the well-to-do who own property in places like Valley, Blaine, and Boise Counties.

Check out any of the hundreds of local rental cars and you will see they are registered in Elmore, Bannock and Bonneville Counties. Commercial vehicles in Ada were exempted from the last bond in order to curry favor with business. The little guys make up the difference of lost fees on some sizable fleets as well.

Folks who have condos and cabins outside Ada often claim “residency” in those counties to avoid the higher fees. The GUARDIAN has been made aware of some low key research which indicates there are many tax cheats. You can register in any county, but vehicle owners are required to list their primary use address. While not real clear, the commercial and rental car registration requirements need to mirror that of personal vehicles.

They claim a “homeowners exemption” on their property tax in Ada while claiming to be residents of other counties to avoid the vehicle fees. They face the potential of losing the homeowner exemption if they get caught. We think they should also risk losing their Ada voter registration since they claim to have a residence elsewhere.

There are no official numbers yet from the tax cheat survey, but ACHD Commishes need to clean up the current law before they try to raise fees. Idaho’s DMV has little interest in conducting the research because Ada is the only county to benefit from strict enforcement. Risking their homeowner tax break for a relatively small vehicle fee break may get the attention of some of the scofflaws.

Local Media Today Is The Government

By DAVID R. FRAZIER, editor

Recent conversations with friends and a GUARDIAN reader’s comment about getting nothing but press releases from the local media got us to thinking about past and present.

Nearly 50 years ago I was the police and fire reporter at the STATESMAN, covering cops, fires, and the courts. Both the Ada Sheriff and the Boise PD had a clip board set up so I could read EVERY report generated by the officers. Granted there weren’t so many reports, but the daily log was a treasure trove of news.

We published stories of most felony offenses, deaths, and all the “fun stuff” coppers encounter during a shift. As a result, when a compressor was taken from a job site in Boise it was common for a farmer in Eagle to find it in his corn field. If a prominent businessman filed a false theft report, his “girlfriend” read the report and tipped the coppers.

Not so today. Reporters find it nearly impossible to read timely incident reports. The police employ their own news staffs who decide WHAT to release and then they WRITE the stories. The GUARDIAN gets most of the releases and it astounds us when we see and hear the reports parroted by the local media.

Here is an example of a police-generated story by the State Police at Lewiston:

On May 29, 2018 at approximately 08:43 a.m. an injury crash occurred on Arrow Highline Road, just north of the SH3/US12 junction. A 2007 International truck loaded with propane driven by Shaun Barber, 35, of Genesee, was eastbound on Arrow Highline Road when the vehicle moved too far right and entered the right hand shoulder. The shoulder gave way under the weight of the truck.

The truck rolled at least once landing on the tires on the railroad tracks below. The driver was able to exit the vehicle, close the safety valve and call for help. No propane was spilled or vented. The vehicle was removed under its own power off the railroad tracks. Barber was transported to St. Josephs where he was treated and released for minor injuries. The investigation is ongoing.

Now that is a story! Talk about a lucky guy. Not even Hollywood stuntmen could manage to flip a virtual ten ton bomb, land on a railroad track and then drive away. Coppers can’t inject their commentary into stories, but a good reporter and editor team would have that incident on the front page and followed by media worldwide.

When a car was stolen recently in Boise with an infant inside, the copper-generated news simply didn’t add up. They reported the car was left running at a convenience store with the baby inside. When the thieves took off, “a parent” supposedly chased it down on foot. One of the inadvertent kidnappers handed over the baby and waited around for coppers while the driver fled and was arrested next day.

The account is simply unbelievable. No felon waits around for the cops. No questions were raised about the negligent parent leaving the car running with the kid inside. Had to be a custody squabble or something, but the police news writing was severely lacking at best.

Side note: It appears to several media watchers that the Idaho Press Tribune (or “IDAHO PRESS”) is making a move on the Statesman. The Adams publishing family now owns Idaho Falls, Pocatello, and the Nampa-Caldwell-Meridian print media outlets. They picked up veteran political reporter Betsy Russell from the Spokane Spokesman and it would seem they are on the verge of becoming “Idaho’s Newspaper.” Let’s hope they are able to cover more than press releases.

With no printing press and a small staff, the venerable Statesman has lost much of its former clout becoming the “vulnerable” Statesman.

See IDAHO PRESS for details of the move on Boise.

Tax Hike Due This Year AND Next!

The GUARDIAN has received several inquiries regarding property taxes following the assessment notices recently sent out by county assessors.

The short version is this. YOUR TAX BILL WILL BE HIKED!

Local politicos will brag they have “lowered the levy rate,” but when the value is increased the only way to profit is to sell your property and leave town. For example if the levy is 10% and the value of the property is $100, the tax is $10. But if the value is $150 and the levy remains the same the tax is $15 which amounts to a 50% hike even though there is no rate hike.

Cities and counties love the boom times because they get rich off building permits (Boise City has an extra $1 million). Local budget increases are limited to 3%, but that includes the value of new construction and which allows for even more government spending.

Property values are assessed as of December 31. We are told there is already close to a 20% increase in the Boise area this year. That means a probable hike in the 2019 tax bill as well.

The higher values are a direct result of growth encouraged by state and local politicos. They offer tax breaks which encourage new businesses to move in with more people who drive up the price of housing.

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