Growth is Sour Note For Idaho Future

Guv Butch Otter wants a flat rate automobile registration fee of $150 to add some badly needed cash to the state’s road building program. Probably a good idea.
Butch has enough business savvy to know when you are in trouble the last thing you do is increase your staff and plant size.

Makes a lot more sense to raise prices (increase fees), maintain market share without creating need for more production facilities (roads), become “lean and mean” through efficient use of staff and facilities. In short: “Don’t create more demand for product if you have to sell it at a loss.”

Before he can get the support of the GUARDIAN, he needs to reduce the effort to recruit more businesses–hence more people and cars–through so called “economic development plans.” Like the proposed tax deal for the nuke people in Eastern Idaho.

We really don’t mind paying more for car registrations, but if the new roads are aggressively jammed with more trucks and cars visiting more businesses, homes, and schools, we haven’t made any progress.

Boise City is quietly creating developments south of the airport and long range plans call for a “freight hub” which will have BIG planes coming and going 24/7 along with hundreds of big trucks which will jam any new roads built with the registration fee hike.
We recently heard a brilliant speaker on Public Radio (brilliant because we agree with him) questioning the need to GROW. He cited an orchestra’s goals for the coming year.

The musical group had no intention of adding more violins and saxaphones. They didn’t seek to get louder. No. They wanted to get BETTER and more proficient. Wow! wouldn’t that be nice if we could convince the politicos in Boise and Idaho that Bigger is not Better. BETTER IS BETTER according to a once loved football coach.

With some luck our Valley and the State will get back to appreciating a well orchestrated system and not feel compelled to have more “violins and saxaphones.”

Boise politico planners are holding meetings Wednesday and Thursday to sell their versions of future growth. Wednesday 7pm at the Ameri Tel Inn at Cole and Overland and Thursday 7pm at the Holiday Inn on Vista. Based on a press release it appears they are doing another manipulated presentation along the lines of “Which of the three plans to you like best” as they continue to sell growth and expansion….whatever happened to the landscaping plan for the Flying Wye?

We urge all GROWTHOPHOBES–in fact all responsible citizens–to appear and demand one of the options be to curtail growth and stop spending our tax dollars to encourage growth and development which causes the need for services and infrastructure which cost us money and creates the need for more growth to pay for GROWTH …you get the idea.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. I like the analogy of the orchestra. Get better first, then look at growth-not the other way around.

    I do not agree with a flat registration fee for cars. I would rather pay higher gas taxes at the pump. This would cost those who are using our roads the most. Charge those who are creating the growth and causing the traffic problems. Make people think twice before buying a house in Nampa and commuting to Micron.

    I and others have found alternative means of transportation but still need cars occasionally. We should not be penalized with high registration fees for the choice of others. GAS Tax is the fair tax.

    EDITOR NOTE–Clancy, the source of the revenue is not the important issue. We need to “catch up” and then stop using what we have to attract more people who want to take advantage of us…that applies to factories, residential developers, ski lodges, and sporting goods retailers.

  2. Guardian, you and I have disagreed in the past relative to growth. I must admit that you have brought me to the dark side, kinda.

    Although I still believe that a certain amount of growth is inevitable because, after all is said and done, this is still one of the best cities in the world to live and raise a family. To actively pursue unlimited growth is starting to be really dumb!I think there is a logical arguement for attracting “selective” growth. That is specific businesses that will truly add to the economy. Light manufacturing comes to mind. While we may not be able to halt the growth, we should, no longer, go out of our way to attract it. We don’t need to spend any more money to “clog up” our infrastructure.

  3. Ok, it is a great city, but it will not remain great if it grows the way it has been. Well, I guess if one is used to LA or some other mess of a city, there is a lot of room to move towards “non-great”, but for natives…. it’s loosing great as the foothills become filled with huge houses, the roads become something you cannot take your kids biking on, the people become less friendly (they just aren’t raised that way), etc.
    So why not increase fees for developers as well as asking Butch, et at, to stop this insane advertising to buy Idaho (literally).
    Besides, Butch, with more numbers there should be a larger tax base.
    I am concerned with people on limited incomes. It’s a big price increase for retired native Idahoans since they may not have had the big incomes that folks moving in had when they were working thus less Social Security and pensions. I do not see this as a simple matter as it hits people differently.
    I see an added tax at the pumps a bit more fair or tax according to price of car (luxury cars cost more).

  4. Editor: “The source of the revenue is not the important issue.”

    I disagree. It may not be THE issue, but it’s significant.

    I agree with Clancy. The road USERS (and wearer-outers) – including visitors from out-of-state – should all pay a fair share. It’s regressive to turn a “registration fee” into a tax. The registration fee rightly should only be the $ to process the registration.

    Let me give you an example. Tell me if I’m wrong.

    Family A has a 1992, half-ton pickup. Dad drives it back and forth to work almost every day. It accumulates 15,000 miles in a year.

    Family B lives next door. They have an identical 1992 half-ton pickup. 350 days a year, it sits in the driveway. 3 days a year, it makes a trip to the dump. 10 days a year, it’s off on a family fishing/camping trip in the heart of Idaho’s beautiful back country. It accumulates 1500 miles in a year.

    Why should Family A pay 1 cent per mile “registration fee,” and Family B spend 10 cents per mile?

    The gas tax may not be totally fair as a way to spread the costs, but as a general rule, people who either: 1) drive a lot of miles on the roads, or 2) drive big, heavy gas-guzzlers will be burning more gallons than people who: 3) try to minimize their miles-driven, and 4) drive vehicles that sip the gas.

    Other than that, I agree with your message. Better is better. (I think somebody said that before the big Fiesta Bowl game, too.)

    EDITOR NOTE–I don’t disagree with anything you say. Does this mean you would tax bicycles for 10% of the cost of a highway based on the amount of pavement devoted to the two wheelers? 🙂

  5. If growth was good and paid for itself, the air would be getting cleaner, traffic congestion would be diminished and tax rates and fees would be decreasing.

    Not in Idaho. Not in my lifetime.

  6. Cheap fuel and cheap housing away from population/work centers does contribute to sprawl and traffic.

    It is hard to tax bike users when equal facilities don’t exist.

  7. I agree with the Guardian.

    It should be noted that Boise was a great city to live. Its still not bad but it is on a slippery slope and the few seem to care. Bigger and more roads will only lead to more traffic, more use of oil and more spread. We humans tend to fill to overflowing whatever container we find ourselves inhabiting. We should be looking at the long term consequences or our actions and not short term profits.

    Pity the children, who will live in the mess we are creating!

  8. sam the sham
    Feb 27, 2008, 4:28 pm

    Don’t worry, knowing these people (the ones voted in), they will say $150 to take the sting out of the (plan of) $100. So the people will get screwed and be thankful for it.

    Have you ever noticed how one can tell when they leave Oregon and touch Idaho by the sound of the tires and the (lack of) smoothness of the ride? Idaho highways are bad. We do not get what we pay for as it is…. and now they want more money. Not for better roads, but so folks can get a raise and more expensive desks.

  9. About the time I was thinking Butch might be a smart Govenor, he comes up with a flat fee for Auto’s. Why would anyone want to charge someone with a $4000 Auto the same as some one who buys a $50,000 dollar SUV. The good old Rebulican way I guess.

  10. What about a combination of tire, gas and registration fees? I commute by bicycle except in the winter and I wouldn’t mind paying a bike tire tax if I knew it was for new bike paths or re-surfacing the green belt. The problem with the flat tax, beloved idea of flat earth libertarian tards, is it treats all drivers the same. My neighbors 3/4 ton diesel mud monster pickup does a lot more damage to the road than my wife’s Ford Focus commuter sedan. Why not base the tax on tires for any vehicle on axel weight? Tires are rated for weight. That is how you pay for truck freight permits. A gas tax is fair. The more you use the more you pay. With the flat registration fee, Mr. Hummer gets subsidised by Mr. Ford Focus. That is exactly what Mr.Ford Extinction SUV driver wants. With a tire tax the more tires you wear out the more tax you pay. If you can shift annual flat registration taxes over to Grandma on a fixed income, with the cherry 64 Impala SS she only drives on Sunday with it’s second pair of tires or to the student with the clapped out Toyota Tercel driving to BSU from Meridian, you can be someones freemarket hero. (Remember, “freedom isn’t free”?) It’s about rubber hitting the road dude.

  11. if I had a hammer
    Feb 27, 2008, 6:38 pm

    Dave you have some great points, growth is insane in this area- we see more and more empty houses for sale but at the same time, more and more farm land is being turned into yet more new developments, now that is insanity. Re: the registration fee, I propose the fee be based on the SIZE of the vehicle, you know – the hummers, escalades etc. which pollute more and use more gas should pay more. A $150 fee is an outrage to working families who are barely able to pay for the gas to get to work where they earn $8.00 an hour. An exemption would have to be made for trucks and rigs used in farming/ranching etc. But driving your big ugly hummer should cost you more than me driving my subaru. A gas tax is not fair either especially to those with low incomes, I would also support a toll on certain roads.

  12. I think Otter is off his rocker on this proposal. His transportation official was quoted in the Daily Blab saying, “It’s a fair and simple way of taxing people.” Simple it is. Fair it is not. Any tax of this nature should be use based. Add a couple cents to the gas tax if you absolutely have to. Otter points to some neighboring states, like Montana, Nevada and Wyoming, where vehicle registration is over $300 per car. That is true. It is also true that Montana and Oregon have NO SALES TAX and Nevada and Wyoming have NO INCOME TAX. We in Idaho have ALL those taxes and the rates for them are NOT on the low side. It is way past time for the Idaho politicos to cut the fat and prioritize spending. With all the tax vehicles they have in this state, there should be plenty of dough to do what’s necessary if they would plan and spend wisely. Instead, we waste millions on stupid crap like the Statehouse submarine project.

  13. Dog is dang right on this one!
    The gas tax should be increased to start the process of getting more giant SUVS and mega cars like Hummers etc off the roads and out of our air pollution. Secondly, axel weight is a brilliant idea and works already for truck freight permits. Interstate trucks are also one of Idaho’s biggest–I repeat–BIGGEST–causes of road decay. A gas tax on them might reduce their thru-numbers (let them go thru Nevada :)(Let them eat cake.)
    Flat rates are ultra unfair/discriminatory–seniors and students who must drive to do anything outside their homes would not be able to afford them. In fact, who would be able to afford $187.50 (Ch 6’s total estimate) per year?

  14. Rod in SE Boise
    Feb 27, 2008, 7:53 pm

    Just a few comments, for now. For some of us the source of the revenue IS the major issue. Increased fees, sales taxes, value added taxes, and property taxes are not acceptable. If Butch wants our money, for whatever purpose, he should tax our income and nothing else.

    Growth is also the major issue. More is seldom better, especially when it comes to people.

    The ideas that come out of the Republican dominated government usually amaze me, and I’m usually shocked by the acceptance they receive.

  15. Dog, do you walk your bike to the greenbelt? I know I don’t. Seems to me that if we are dedicating 10% of the road to bike lanes, then bikers should pay 10% of the funds needed for improvement. Now, you and I both know that won’t happen, but it is logical, although not realistic. I am not opposed to a sliding scale of registration taxes, that’s what they are, but the emphasis is not being made that the little Ford Focus and Grandma’s 63 Impala still pollute as much as the big boys do. Or damn near it. I seriously doubt that Otter’s plan will survive the legislature. In fact, what really worries me is that they, the legislature, will bicker about this and do nothing.

  16. For purposes of road building, a 1990 Buick and a 2008 Lexus count as 1 car and require the same amount of roadway. Maybe it’s time we all paid our share rather than asking the Lexus to subsidize the old Buick.

  17. My 74 year old mother-in-law drove 670 miles last year, documented when she sent in her car insurance renewal that required her to state the current mileage on her car. The Insurance company even called her to verify the numbers.

    Under Otter’s proposal she will pay more for the vehicle registration than she does for fuel in a year and probably never use the vehicle on a state funded roadway as she only uses county roads to go to the grocery store and hair dressers. This is an unfair tax.

    How about imposing an impact fee fee on new vehicles sold in Idaho and vehicles that are registrating in the state for the first time.

    Many states have laws requiring big rigs to purchase fuel in state so that they pay for the roads they use, but I always thought this law was a burden on the State Highway Patrol that had to enforce it and got little back in their budget turning them into “revenuers” for the general fund.

    It’s a complex problem and Otter’s “one size fits all” solution doesn’t.

  18. Dog – what you say is true, all other things being equal.

    If the neighbor’s Mud Monster or Extinction sits in the driveway 350 days/year, and the more-responsible Ford Focus does 100 miles per day, 365, all bets are off. That’s why I lean toward the gas tax as the most equitable, while still relatively simple to administer. And simultaneously providing incentive to minimize on-highway miles, congestion, pollution, etc. (Oregon, as you probably know, is experimenting with GPS in a “Big Brother” notion to keep track of your miles, and tax you per mile driven in Oregon.)

    Guardian… regarding your notion of taxing bicycles for using the roads, I’d be in favor if there were some way to make it fair. (Wear-and-tear on the roads, as inflicted by bicycles. We’re talkin’ some SERIOUS CABBAGE, huh? I wonder how long that concrete freeway to Caldwell would last, if it were bicycle-only.) I like to rationalize that since I give ACHD a couple hundred per year in PROPERTY TAX, I’ve already got that covered anyway.

  19. Nowhere on the face of this planet do we pay homage to the infernal combustion engine like we do in the good old USA. Money “drives” this stuff. Economic development thrives where they don’t pay much in the way of taxes for the brick and mortar they call jobs and busineses. The willing workers gravitate to where they can afford to live. Net result is that we have about 40% of Canyon County pounding the pavement to Ada County to attend the place of employement.

    What really needs to happen is an equalization of the property taxes that the job suppliers pay. Then the live, work, play, lip service we hear becomes a reality. Busineses have the incentive to locate near what they think is a good labor market for what they need. Tax policy is the tail wagging the dog as it stands.

    We are going to invest millions to widen the freeway so more of us can sit in stalled traffic every day while we still flog our way to and from work.

    Problem is that the elected officials can’t figure this out and they will continue to pour concrete, strive for more “economic development” offer more tax incentives to big business and the whole time our quality of life degrades.

    I can honestly say that all this growth has not improved my nor my families quality of life. If I could throw a switch I would take us back to the 1970’s in a New York second. Put up a sign that says KEEP OUT! None of the stuff that has gone on for the last fifteen years or so is sustainable. We are drawing down the water table, the air quality in the summer sucks. And we call it progress. More of everything is not beter!

  20. Dave,

    For people taking advantage of us.

    Could you add a French Company for Nuclear that
    no one ever heard of 6 weeks ago.

  21. The flat fee is a BIG mistake. I voted for Butch because I thought he was a real conservative – not just a RINO (repulican in name only) kind of guy.

    A flat fee REALLY hurts seniors who have older cars and drive very little. It hurts ANYONE who tries to limit their driving.

    The ONLY real equitable way to have those that drive pay for the impact of their driving is that gas tax – NOT registration fees.

    I hope Butch comes to his senses and gets my conidence back in him – at this point he has lost it.

  22. Back off Cyclops. By commuting on my bike I not only make room for your stinking single driver cage on the roads but I also free up parking for you where ever I go. 85% of my commute is on the Greenbelt. People riding bikes is a benefit to cagers like you. Cagers ought to kiss lycra bikers shorts becuase we actually save tax dollars. Like I say, it would be far cheaper to pay or make incentives for people who ride bikes than pouring new pavement and building more taxpayer funded parking. Our bicycles are not tearing up your roads and parking structures designed for and about your precious car culture. You get to park one or two stalls closer enhancing your pathetic Wal-Mart shopping experience, when you see bikes in the rack by the door, so you can go spend this nation down the toilet by buying imported Chinese crap soon to be on it’s journey to the taxpayer subsidized landfill.

  23. Meridian Mike
    Feb 28, 2008, 1:10 pm

    Exactly right Clancy, bikeboy, jo,and MLM. (and I’ll bet I missed somebody) And nobody is saying it any better than dog and paul. Butch doesn’t have somebody around that can tell him the same thing? Take a look at the ACHD budget and its largest revenue source and it’s……..(get ready for this!)… property tax.
    I’d say the bike using homeowners (and renters) have more than paid their way. Maybe Butch and crew actually want us to use more oil.

  24. WHOA Dog! Back away from the keyboard before you have a stroke! All that cycling has you on edge.
    I am really glad you commute mostly on your bike, because emotionally, you are a prime candidate for road rage. All of a sudden I am a “stinking cager” who shops for Chinese stuff at Wal- Mart and fills the landfill needlessly!Let me thank you for giving ME the roads, parking structures, and the prime spot at Wal-Mart. I would wager that you were among the many, including me by the way, that lobbied for every road in town to have a dedicated bike lane. Now that it’s time to fix those roads, you want nothing to do with them. Those roads belong to ME now, I guess. So what is going to happen when I tell you to get off MY roads? Or what will your reaction be when I decide that we don’t actually need bike lanes any more, and if that means we knock off a couple of bikers a year, Oh Well, Collateral damage.
    I am sorry you are having such a bad day. I think I’ll go for a bike ride on the green belt. After all, it IS a beautiful day!

  25. sharryn clark
    Feb 28, 2008, 2:16 pm

    Pat, I grew up with Butch Otter, he’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer, so be ready to expect anything out your current state adminstration……..

  26. Meridian Mike
    Feb 28, 2008, 2:47 pm

    Page 4 if government financial reports give you mego (my eyes glaze over).

  27. After taking the survey at the Boise Blue Print I have never been so upset for being ignored. We are having the expansion of Boise being shoved down are throats whether we wnat it or not.

    It time for Boisians to have a vioce other than the city council telling us what to do. They are money hungry for business and they forget we are a right to work state. Evey time they raise taxes or fees our wages go down. Boisian are being hurt. Its time to stop the growth and recover our state.

  28. Curious Bob
    Feb 28, 2008, 7:47 pm

    Not to detract from the main point of registration fees, but since the highway system involves fiscal conservancy and complex economic issues here are some interesting (yes, perhaps slightly slanted) questions for discussion. Perhaps these will also provide future food for thought as well. In terms of the way that the Idaho Transportation Department does business it would be interesting to do some independently run studies on a few of these issues.

    To what extent does the department contract or consult work out, and how has that changed in, say, the past 50 years? What balance of consulting/contracting work would be most cost effective to do in-house v. out? These questions are very political because there are some close ties between the business community and various government entities and because often the in-house work is sometimes discouraged because it takes business away from the private industry.

    Also, there is a lot of personnel exchange between the transportation department and the business community. Sometimes there seems to be an effect of training ITD engineers and then losing them to consultants because ITD can’t increase their wages very well and consults pay better.

    Feel free to discuss.

  29. Inside City Hall
    Feb 28, 2008, 10:44 pm

    Deb – welcome to how this mayor and council do business. The “public comment” portion of this process is only a front so they say they “let you have input”. They do this with the Blueprint for Growth and the other plans.

    The city leaders decide what they want regardless of what you saw – then they give you the “choices” THEY want.

    They do the same thing with the nieghborhoods – it realy does not matter what you testify. They do what they want anyway.

    But remember – – this is what you voted for.

  30. Yossarian_22
    Feb 29, 2008, 2:25 pm

    I’m with Bikeboy. The tax should correlate with usage. Like Bikeboy, I bike most of the year and use the ole pickup when I really need it. Why punish us? And don’t say it’s just like schools. We need to maintain what roads we have in the habital part of the infrastructure (in town) and not build new ones in the sprawl zones. A registration fee doesn’t send the right market signal. It’s just a regressive method to get some quick road building dough to keep up the fantasy of the American Car Culture Dream.

  31. Not much I can add to this; a lotta folks got it right. Now how can we get Butch to read this (assuming he can read, unlike
    the W)?

    Sometimes it seems the whole point of this and many of the other plans by the many RINOs in our state (and national) government is to drive us all broke in hopes we’ll eventually starve to death and quit bothering them.

    Yep, the people voted them into office, but what choice was there?

    As someone once pointed out, we get 50 candidates to choose from for Miss American, but only two to chose from for president (and many other jobs).

    Seems like mostly only the greedy run for the top offices anyway, and the few “good guys” who do manage to get elected get corrupted — or at least learn they’ll never get any of their bills passed unless they trade off by voting for some of the bills they hate.

    What’s the answer? I have no idea. Do you?

Get the Guardian by email

Enter your email address: