City Government

Dancing The Tax Dollar Shuffle

It seems like all the cities in Ada county and the courts themselves can’t get along with each other and the battles are all over money and poor decisions.

Gone are the days of “putting the people first.”
A recent ruling by 4th District Court Judges simply fails the test of logic when it comes to deciding who pays the costs of justice…Unfortunately it arguably passes the test of law. Under the Idaho Code, the court is ordering Boise City to pay about $1 million annually because Boise is the “prime user” of the courts and judges.

WE ALSO PAY MORE TAXES TO ADA COUNTY! Yet, they want us to pay additional fees. (every Boise taxpayer is also an Ada County taxpayer) That’s like WalMArt charging higher prices to people who are repeat customers and spend the most money.

The decision of the court is an “administrative ruling,” but it can–and should–be appealed to the Idaho Supreme Court. Simple logic tells us a city with more population–and more criminals–will have more trials and hearings. The city also generates more fines and court costs for things like judges retirement funds and police training. The city’s arguments are hindered by an old City/County agreement–and state law that allows courts to order municipalities to provide magistrate court facilities and staff.

It all got murky when Ada Commishes in the late 1990’s consolidated all the courts into the current court house which was never approved by a binding vote of citizens. That put a lot of pressure on Ada County to find cash to pay for the new facility. Magistrate court was formerly at the City-County law enforcement building on Barrister–apparently provided by the city, according to court documents which acknowledge the line between city and county became blurred.

Meridian and Garden City do not pay for use of the courts and have ignored court orders to “provide magistrate court facilities.”

The Daily Paper quoted Ada Commish Fred Tilman as saying Eagle, Star and Kuna pay a fair court share “through an agreement with the county.” That statement is simply not true.
What Tilman was apparently talking about is the fact that Kuna, Eagle, and Star are “customers” of the sheriff who rents his badge to those communities. They do not have their own police forces and pay the sheriff to run their police services. HOWEVER, those contracts have nothing whatsoever to do with the cost and operation of the courts. Because the sheriff has three cities as customers certainly doesn’t relieve those municipalities of an obligation to pay their share.

The Ada County Prosecutor also provides (for a fee) criminal legal services to Eagle, Kuna, and Star, but that doesn’t cover the courts either.

To summarize: The Ada Sheriff rents his badge to Eagle, Kuna, and Star. Ada’s 4th District Judges want Boise to rent court rooms and clerks from the Commishes for their use. Boise’s City Attorney rents lawyers to Meridian (forgot to tell you about that one!) to prosecute misdemeanors and traffic cases simultaneously with Boise cases.

Depending on the political winds, Boise City and Ada County have combined some facilities and made “working agreements.” At present those winds are erratic at best and we all pay when they turn stormy.

All we can say is, “You are doing a heckuva job Brownie!”

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. The problem is, as always, with our society letting judges determine every aspect of our lives. Where does one go when a court simply makes it up?

    I do not know the state of the law here, but it still strikes me as a political issue and not a legal one.

    Boise should tell the judge to pack sand…

  2. I wonder why this hasn’t come up before now? I really don’t remember Simmons (or any one else) discussing this when that monolith was going up. All we heard was how it wouldn’t cost the taxpayer any money. Now, that all appears to have been a blatant lie! There appear to be so many “side-deals” here that it will take forever to unravel them. But maybe that is the intent of city/county government to begin with. The amazing facet of all this is that the elected officials wonder why we don’t trust them as far as they can be tossed!!
    A helluva way to run a railroad!!

  3. Grumpy ole guy
    May 20, 2008, 10:27 pm

    Not only a reailroad, Cyclops, but a pool hall, too. So, by the judge’s logic shouldn’t we just let the users of the courts pay for them by charging higher court fees? That would be fair and equal, wouldn’t it? Maybe even a crime deterrent ? .

    Grumpy by choice

  4. This issue has always been one of my pet peeves. Government agencies should have to be supported either by taxes or by fees and with no co mingling of funds allowed. Since thats not the case currently any fees charged on top of taxes should be tax deductible since we already paid upfront.

  5. Rod in SE Boise
    May 21, 2008, 6:55 pm

    Integral Calculus and Physics were easier to understand than the court system Dave attempts to describe in his post. But then, calculus and physics are governed by laws of nature. The court system was devised by humans. I guess that explains why I don’t understand it.

  6. We need a ‘metro’ law enforcement system in this area. One police agency for all of Ada County. This would eliminate this problem, as well as duplication of resources in other areas. Everyone just needs to start asking the elected leaders for it, and maybe someone will start the ball rolling!

  7. LJ,

    I wont dispute that a metro system for many services may be in Ada Counties Best interest in the future…but it wont do away with the Sherriffs office, wich is required as an elected official. Similar to having a city manager does not do away with the need for a mayor.

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