City Government

Boise Raises Tax Levy, Doles Out Cash To Unions, Elected Officials, One Citizen Calls It An “Exhibition Of Unprecedented Arrogance”

The city council gave each other praise
Before voting themselves a nice raise
The taxpayers got
What they paid for – NOT!
Therein the big problem lays.

We haven’t seen a lot in the legacy media, but Tuesday’s council session was sort of like a lottery jackpot for some–at the expense of most.

Not only did the City Council grant itself 17% raises, they gave the mayor a similar bump and managed to come up with previously negotiated one time 2.5% bonuses for the COPPERS and FIREFIGHTERS, just in time for Christmas. Then for good measure they granted themselves monthly “expenses” of $150 to cover use of personal cell phones and cars within the city.

Price for pooping also went up about 70 cents a month with sewer fee increases. Doesn’t sound like much, but “incremental increases” are easier to slip into a bill than ask voter approval for a one time bond to remove phosphorus from the effluent. No one complains about 70 cents.

Apparently the tough financial times many residents are experiencing is lost on the Council. Boise increased the 2012 tax LEVY by 6.5% over 2011. Meanwhile property VALUES declined by about 2%. This results in a significantly higher tax as a percentage of property value.

Market value for Boise property was $23.7 billion in 2008 compared to $17.15 billion in the current 2012 assessment. Each year the Boise Councilors increase the budget at or near the maximum allowed 3%. Anybody see these figures in the list of “best cities to locate your business?”

The following note arrived from ACHD Commission Chairman Rebecca Arnold moments after the above was posted:

(“I thought you might find the email below interesting as it expresses an opinion different than that held by the Boise City council. Although I specifically requested that the email be read at yesterday’s meeting, the city council refused to do so. Obviously they did not want anything on their meeting tape to alert anyone that there is opposition to their actions. A 20% increase in the Mayor’s salary is unprecedented and unwarranted – I hope the media does not allow the City to quietly get away with this. In my opinion, the Mayor’s current salary is probably too much for the service he actually performs”).

Mayor and Council Members:
I realize that providing input to this body represents an exercise in futility as you seem to do whatever you want anyway. However, please read this email into the record at today’s Boise City Council meeting. I am a Boise resident and have been for more than 25 years. I do not recall ever having a council in place that has consistently raised taxes and fees as this one has. You have raised property taxes every year despite the recession (although you did, interestingly, only raise the property taxes half of the allowable amount during the last council election year) and it seems you have never seen a fee that you felt didn’t need to be increased. Enough is enough!!

I am opposed to any increases in the sewer fees or any other Boise City fees. Boise residents just cannot afford any more increases. ACHD has kept the amount of property taxes that goes to ACHD at the same level for the last 4 years and we recently decreased impact fees. Perhaps you might consider following that example and try tightening your belts instead of continually raising taxes and fees (eliminating the out-of-state boondoggle trips would be a good place to start!).

I am also adamantly opposed to raising the salaries of the Mayor and Council. Absolutely ridiculous! I am well aware of the jobs that you perform and my opinion is that you are already compensated fairly for the work that you do. You were all well aware of the salaries when you ran for office and if you are not happy with the salaries, please resign and go back to work in the private sector. Approving a 20% increase for yourselves would be an exhibition of unprecedented arrogance.

I also question placing these items on the agenda for a day meeting when probably most of your constituents would be unable to attend. A night meeting would have been more appropriate to afford the public an opportunity to provide input.
Rebecca Arnold

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Amazing……. Thank you for helping the rest of us in these hard times. Can we elect Boise city council members from different sections of the city? So we can have some real representation or does money trump all things.

  2. Are you surprised? Really?

    Not to be outdone by Boise officials, Blaine County Commissioners awarded themselves a 10% raise this year over the objections of a citizens committee.

    Oddly, this was all done after the election filing deadline had passed. From August.

  3. idahocrystal
    Nov 28, 2012, 3:10 pm

    When I read this, I kind of feel like an illegal immigrant for living in Canyon Co. and working in Boise – Taking my higher wage home with a lower cost of living – Same exact house for 20-30K less – I do feel a smidge of empathy, but then I remember that I didn’t help elect any of these self-interested individuals. I also remember CC’s got it’s own windbags. Happy Holidays.

  4. chicago sam
    Nov 28, 2012, 6:54 pm

    Not that I’m complaining mind you Crystal but pretty obvious you don’t live in Nampa–home of the Idaho Center which we susidize for over 1 million/year or raising of the Idaho Power Franchise fee by 50% last summer or looking forward to a minimum increase of 27% in our sewer fees. Yup life is good over here and we are going to make Bujak pay for his sins too, whose contract with Nampa was written 3 different times by the city attorney–Oh wait I got it mixed up–we are going to pay a bunch of attorneys—-

  5. Tonight I heard the most INSANE explination for the salary increases. The city’s “spokesperson” said – and this is a quote – “the raise is warrented due to development like Whole Foods coming to town.”

    The city raised the levy rates and for the last 6 years our property taxes have GONE UP – in the midst of the market values tanking.

    This mayor and council have NO ability to control their spending or their egos.

  6. I say we all just poop on Team Dave’s front lawn once a week until he gets the message.

    @Idahocrystal. Your Canyon taxes are more than Ada. Just less than Boise City.

  7. Rod in SE Boise
    Nov 28, 2012, 8:47 pm

    State and local governments are the problem, not the federal government. Those Ron Paul people are barking up the wrong tree.

    My property taxes (the taxes, not the levy) went up 15%. Boise has a gold standard city park system and an overblown, militarized police department. There are probably exceptions (firemen, to name one), but other than that, the city, county, and state just are there to regulate our freedoms out of existence. (smoking prohibitions, unnecessary regulation of alcoholic beverages, unnecessary criminalization of pot, and more).

  8. If you go by the city spokesperson’s logic, then shouldn’t Boise residents be able to deduct for the all the businesses that have failed or relocated during the recession? And yes, Boise, there has been a recession. It’s not too soon to appeal to the 2013 Legislature to end these outrageous salary bumps by capping them through state law. I recall specifically asking some of Boise’s leaders when they were running for election if they were “tax and spend” Democrats. They said they were not. It appears they are. I hope this “we deserve” disease doesn’t spread to my city (Meridian.)

  9. idahocrystal: You are part of the problem with sprawl. How much have we spent (borrowed) through GARVEE bonds to subsidize you and your like minded 2Cer’s? Hint: It’s called I-84.

    Move to Canyon County, work in Canyon County. Try factoring in the actual costs associated with your choice.

    Your comment demonstrates the fallacy of the “Taking my higher wage home with a lower cost of living – Same exact house for 20-30K less” concept. At what point in your commuting are you realizing your diminishing return on your “savings”?

  10. Founding fathers had fewer reasons to revolt against tyranny in government. When will we fight against this state’s push to bring Orwell’s 1984 into reality?

  11. To be fair for $22,000 a year I wouldn’t want the job the councilors have. Have any of you ever attended a meeting?

    Honestly I’ve only attended a couple dozen or so city council and P&Z hearings, but at every one there is some long winded person who has no clue how city government works. Some of the people sound downright mentally ill so it’s no surprise they have a few cops at every meeting.

    Let’s take the early November meeting when they had the anti-discrmination hearing. A lady was appealing a P&Z decision to allow an apartment building at the entrance to her swanky subdivision.

    She droned on for 20 minutes. From the very start it was clear she had no idea how the process worked and that she was not going to win the appeal. Even if she had a chance her commentary was almost entirely irrelevant to the case. The clincher was when she offered the evidence that her master bedroom suite was larger than one of the proposed apartment units. I would have slammed the gavel down right then and said “Lady, you’re wasting everyone’s time, NEXT!”

  12. And another thing:

    The 3 Ada County Commissioners make– what is it, 90k per year? That’s $270,000 per year in salaries. That’s roughtly the same as the combined salaries of Boise’s Mayor and Councliors. And just what does Ada County do? Not much compared to the City of Boise which provides the parks for ALL of Ada County residents. How many parks does Ada County have? One.

    For another perspective, 280,000 per year is just more than $1.00 per year per resident.

    You people are griping OVER PENNIES! There are many other more expensive things to go after like police and fire and prosecution of victimless crimes.

  13. If only everyone knew what goes on behind the closed doors of city hall! The way they hire upper managers, the remodel of the city departments, the wasted money…

  14. I wonder which council or mayoral seat Ms. Arnold has her eye on.

    In my comment to mayor and council, I noted that in the six years during which they had not taken a pay hike [their rationale for such a steep increase this year], they raised their tax on my home by 60 percent while my Social Security cost-of-living adjustment totaled 16 percent. As a result, a quarter of my Social Security income goes to pay property tax, 11 percent for Boise City, alone.

    I recommended that they curb their appetites.

  15. Boise cynic, I think the point is not how much they make, but the fact that (1) They knew the salary when they ran (2) They knew or should have known what the job entailed, and (3) they have continually sucked money from the taxpayer without acknowledging the actual reality of the economy. Add to that the fact they continually extend their reach ie Dept of Arts and History, instead of sticking to the basics.

  16. 3-Hicolonic
    Nov 29, 2012, 5:28 pm

    The real issue here is not what they make but the costly decisions they make with very little regard for taxpayers.

    There is always a certain amount of money we can all expect to pay for living in our cities and counties but when they start talking about a train to nowhere and other folly and disregard for taxpayers it makes me angry.

  17. Stop complaining! I watched the morning news, including the indepth coverage on the NBC Today show, that our economy is in recovery. The new housing starts are booming nationwide and our great president has brought this country back from the brink of financial destruction. It’s time to move “forward” folks. No time to look back. What ever our city council and mayor earns is not enough!

  18. notalib you are out of touch with most people’s reality.

  19. Zipp- I think you missed notalib’s sarcasm.

  20. Arnold and ACHD are the worst example of local government budgets and ‘arrogance’. And her statement is equally “absolutely ridiculous”.
    In the 2013 Budget, the Director states: Budget Summary
    The total budget reflects a three‐percent increase over the prior year and is responsive to the county’s needs. AND “Personnel costs… represents a
    3.1‐percent rise over the prior year”.

    Go to a meeting and it is clear, they have already decided based on staff recommendation instead of thoughtful input from guests doing an “excercise in futility”.
    Not sure if she is a crock pot or a cast-iron kettle.

  21. Rod has a couple excellent points. One is the overmilitarized police department. They will never get accused of under-responding. They are intimidating.. by design I think. His second point is that his taxes (not the levy) went up 15%. That points out a basic flaw in the property tax system. House values have nothing to do with either the services received or the ability to pay. Had he lived in another area of town where the assessment didn’t change as much, he would have had a different rate of change. Basic unfairness.

  22. Actually East Side, the ACHD did NOT take the 3% increase in property tax, unlike Boise City. They get money from other sources like impact fees and gas tax which may account for the increase in the budget. And don’t forget Boise’s taking more in electric franchise fees (notice your bill went up?), recreation fees, fines and sewer costs. In fact, it would appear Boise never met a tax or fee they didn’t love and love to raise! ACHD ain’t perfect, by any means, but at least they balance their budget and not on the backs of the taxpayers.

  23. I saw a piece today on the fiscal cliff and how federal block grants to police departments and cities are most likely on the chopping block. Does anyone know how much the city of Boise gets from federal block grants? Thanks!

  24. 11 years ago Boise took over providing fire services in areas that Whitney Fire covered. All Whitney firefighters became members of Boise Fire. At this time to paint a picture, Whitney fire district was the size of a pie. The Whitney fire chief retired about 4-6 months after the take over. Whitney fire commissioners were and still in existence to this day. After Whitney’s chief retired the commissioners wanted extra management after the chief was gone. Boise fire chief Renn Ross at the time appointed 1 new Batallian chief per shift as managers, this cost Boise city approximately 150,000 per BC each yr so roughly 500,000 per year. Whitney does pay an amount to Boise each year, but they are using all their reserve funds and soon get to the time when they will be exhausted. Boise closed the old Whitney station on Overland road and built a new station S five mile. Here’s the kicker, in 2007 after not having a fire chief for 7 years and the size of Whitney fire district is the size of a slice of the pie, Boise fire chief retires and Whitney commissioners make him the new fire chief at 62,000 plus benefits, after 5 yrs, this December he will be retiring with a retirement of 11.5 percent of his 5 yr average. Here is where greed as Gordon Gecco from the movie Wall Street stated is the real tragedy. At the new Whitney station on S Five Mile, one of the fire rigs was a 7,000 gal water tender which is needed as in that area, fire hydrants are not closely available as in Boise City. In Oct of 2011, the water tender was shut down due to costs, it is manned should there be an extra firefighter available on that shift. I have a fire report from early this year that a house caught fire, first in engine company was on a medical, so a different fire engine was dispatched, it only took a short time to run out of water, and extra engines were called in, some 7-10 miles. So basically who out there would like the Whitney fire chief, where you have a part time secretary to supervise, no firefighters to manage, vehicle full benefits, nobody knows where your at if you show up at all, as a lot of firefighters have told me the chiefs gotten his golf game pretty good at Falcon Crest. Whitney district size in 2007 was 9 share ft. Boise officials could say he wasn’t our employee, his cost was paid by Whitney fire district, does anybody else see the catch 22, Boise city has lost 400-500 thousand that should have gone into Boise’s fire budget and the new Boise fire chief was a big help in this waste of Boise tax payers dollars.

    EDITOR NOTE–Can you offer any insight about Boise taking over the NACFR, absorbing the firefighters, closing the station on Chinden and increasing response times for Fairview and Chinden areas.

  25. Why not force those who wear a badge to work on a volunteer basis such as a large portion of the firefighters do.
    this would have two benefits,
    1) Those who are serious about protecting the community would be willing to work for free, and thus those who are guilty of abusive tactics would filter out of the positions. The fear of government would eventually return to 0, as it should be.
    2) The money saved could be spent to educate the population, there is unconfirmed studies that show that the more educated the populace is, the less likely they are to become criminals, thus the need to support the police with extravagant amenities such as new cars every year, becomes futile.

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