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.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Kent Goldthorpe
    Jun 15, 2018, 11:12 pm

    Thanks for the piece, Dave. The details of the cheating may be available as early as next week. It is worse than I imagined.

  2. Dollars and Sense
    Jun 16, 2018, 12:14 am

    If you really need the money?!? How about you go after all the thousands of out-of-state-plates that have been living here for years first?

  3. I won’t vote for it until I see a list of projects that are on the line.

  4. Government operates on the Rockefeller principle. ‘Enough’ is a little bit more. Eventually the tax form will look like, “How much money did you make last year… send it in.”

  5. Why is car registration more expensive in Ada Co. than other counties? Is it because we are “fortunate” to live in higher cost area due to all the growth that is happening in Ada County? I get it, we have to pay more because we are lucky!

  6. It’s the price of oil!
    Jun 16, 2018, 11:35 am

    Back around 2005 when oil prices were soaring, a major newspaper published a story that was picked up and run in nearly every paper in the country.

    The main point of the story was that at oil prices higher than $45 dollars a barrel, maintaining the road system would be impossible, and concrete was not a substitute.

    Roads are mostly oil mixed with crushed rock, installed by oil powered machinery, and maintained by more of the same. If roads are not given regular maintainance, they deteriorate rapidly.

    Towns across America are finding they can’t afford to maintain their paved roads anymore, and are slowly going back to gravel.

    This situation doesn’t fit the Star Trek future we’ve been promised, so the original story is now impossible to locate, and the reversion to gravel roads is being kept quietly buried due to the nasty dust problem it creates.

    Oil is in nearly everything we associate with our modern environment, and as it becomes ever more scarce the prices of everything we buy will continue to rise. Inflation used to be just a scam to steal from us, but going forward it will also be caused by our bleak and falling oil supplies, and a total lack of any substitute.

    Note that all supposed substitutes are just scams to steal investor dollars. Shale oil is NOT profitable and loses money with every barrel recovered, and we will never be energy independent unless we live like the Amish, which is our real future, no matter how much we wish upon a star that it wasn’t.

    Even if we figure out nuclear fusion, we are still running out of the basic metals and minerals that make energy useful. Even if energy somehow became free, we still are quickly approaching a time where we won’t be able to make cars, computers, cell phones or all the other gadgets we so dearly covet.

    There is so much disinformation out there leading to false hope, that educating folks on reality is nearly impossible. A popular astrophysicist recently said the first Trillionaire would be the one who starts mining asteroids. This fantasy was quickly shot down by many folks who simply did the math and showed it was not economically feasible by any stretch of the imagination.

  7. More taxes to come!!!
    Jun 16, 2018, 4:08 pm

    Yet to add to your tax enjoyment:

    1. Taxes for a new stadium
    2. Taxes for more roads
    3. Taxes as a local option – Pushed by Dems
    4. Taxes for CWI expansion (ONLY Ada and Canyon County!)
    5. Taxes for the homeless
    6. Taxes for “Services” to add to to State coffers
    7. Taxes on internet sales
    8. Tax deferrals to CCDC as they expand “renewal” area that do not need renewed.
    9. Taxes …..
    10. Taxes……….

  8. Dollars and Sense
    Jun 16, 2018, 5:47 pm

    Back in the day of kingdoms and surfs, the sheriff rode in and took taxes by force if necessary.

    That exact method is still happening, we are still taxed into poverty, but now it’s done without objection. The magic elements in modern America are to have the surfs believe they are not surfs, and, to believe they are getting something valuable for the taxes paid. How do they do that? Brainwashing about “government knows best” in the schrewels & MSM (otherwise known as the dumbing down of Americans). Additionally and most importantly, by having the taxes divided up into small tolerable slices of the overall pie while never never never displaying the entire taxation pie.

    If one looks at the overall taxation of the typical family in Boise earning about $60-90K a year they are losing about 50-55% of their gross pay to some sort of tax or government fee. (I included all the extra bullshit on utility bills because utilities are basically quasi government).

    Request someone compile a complete list of all the typical taxes/fees heaped upon a typical Boise resident with two cars. Also request someone find a state to state comparison of the overall vehicle tax/fee structures. I suspect total Ada/Idaho vehicle taxation is already surprisingly high in comparison.

  9. I find it most interesting that ACHD Commissioner Goldthorpe (above post) is acknowledging the problem is “worse than [he] imagined”.

    After he has lived here for 40+ years and being on the Commissioner for 4 years.

    I expect every person who has lived in Boise for any amount of time has enough friends registering their vehicles in Valley County, Blaine County, Elmore, or anywhere else… that they realize it IS a big problem.

    Not collecting the money that should be collected and wasting too much of the money that is collected.
    More failed leadership.

    Meanwhile we drive on Main Street in that is more like a logging road in Valley County than a street worthy of a city. And ACHD has plenty of Public Information Employees- including a job opening in that department, right now.

    Idaho Legislature missed the opportunity to improve our roads (Ada and state-wide) when fuel dropped to nearly $2/gal. Should have done an fuels tax increase.

    ALL users should pay equally.

  10. I’m waiting to hear more detailed analysis on how this is a true “funding” problem rather than a “spending” problem. For example, ACHD’s directive from some commissioners has been to include dedicated right-turn only lanes at nearly all intersections. These end up at corner lots of section line roads that are very expensive, commercially-zoned lots. Those are costly not only from a land standpoint, but from a franchise purchasing standpoint for gas stations and food outlets. This transfers land from private hands to the government in perpetuity and removes that property tax benefit from city and ACHD revenues, as well as other agencies that collect property taxes. All that to make sure that a motorist who won’t exist until the year 2040 is not delayed during the peak hour while making a right turn? That’s antithetical to any notion of fiscal conservatism and only expands the perpetual maintenance burden on ACHD.

    Another example is the southwest corner of Locust Grove Road and Franklin Road in Meridian. That nearly 3.76-acre corner parcel is a stormwater pond built when Franklin was widened. If I recall correctly, it cost ACHD nearly $1 million to buy that plot of land to become a pond site because of commercial zoning and having to pay for highest and best use.

    When the engineers were asked if it could be piped to a less valuable piece of land, their response was it would cost $300,000 more for pipe. But it was on a piece of land near the railroad tracks that was much cheaper, I think $100,000. (Figures may be a bit fuzzy in my head since that has been 14 years or so). The savings would have been $600,000 to do this, but the process was biased toward the most optimal solution rather than completed through the lens of “value engineering.”

    Now, look at the Maverik at Locust Grove and Overland a mile south–a land use similar to what that Locust Grove/Franklin parcel could have been if not an untaxable stormwater pond. It’s a 1.8-acre site valued at $1.65 million. So, that pond could be more than $3 million in value to the city and ACHD instead of an untaxable piece of land.

    The recent statements by the ACHD Commission President (on a Facebook live forum and in the Ada County/ACHD joint meeting at the end of May) that level of service is really just a “comfort” factor is also one to watch as the agency unveils which projects are on the chopping block. If level of service is only for comfort, then it stands to reason that any evaluation process to determine the projects would not lean so heavily on traffic level of service or include several other factors. Yet, the preliminary “chopping block” list of projects given to ACHD Commissioners includes “Level of Service F” as a reason for the projects.

    There are many other ways they could streamline costs (narrower travel lanes, hourglass road design rather than continuous two-way left turn lanes where there aren’t driveway conflicts, moving bike lanes to curb level rather than in-street, etc) that also increases increase return on investment and improves safety.

    I’m sure there are other examples, but I would need to make sure that status quo practices are not going to be part of creating future funding shortfalls before I can get more comfortable supporting a rate hike.

  11. An idea that they didn't propose
    Jun 18, 2018, 3:32 pm

    What if the registration for the first car was set, and then the 2nd car in that name is higher, and the third higher again. Lots of cars would just plain disappear, and the pot of gold would grow. I think I have heard of other areas doing this.

  12. My Nieghbor
    Jun 18, 2018, 4:47 pm

    My neighbor lives in a million dollar home in Boise. They have 7 cars.

    ALL 7 cars have a Valley County license plates and only one ever gets driven to McCall where they have a cabin. They go to McCall about once a month.

    What a rip off for those of us with second homes in other counties.

    And yes the rental car issue is even worse.

  13. Bieter Begine
    Jun 19, 2018, 7:12 am

    My Neighbor. Report him to the DMV AND the assessor.

    Or stay silent, anonymous and complain.

  14. ACHD should move away from property tax and traditional plate fees in favor of mileage taxes.

  15. My Neighbor
    Jun 19, 2018, 1:26 pm

    BB – they have been reported before – no one took any action – I know the neighbor brags about it

  16. western guy
    Jun 19, 2018, 6:52 pm

    To My Nieghbor (or Neighbor):

    Unless your neighbor registered his vehicles many years ago, now he must register them in the same county where his homeowner’s exemption is located.

    And, he still pays ACHD and Ada EMS fees because his vehicles are registered in Ada County.

    Any citizen can register their vehicles in any county they wish, but the homeowner’s exemption clause in statute decides which county is their ‘home’ county.

    Check with the Ada County Assessor to confirm.

    EDITOR NOTE–WG, you identified the problem, but apparently many folks make false residency claims when they register vehicles.

  17. I still believe we have taxation without representation! ACHD has repaved most roadways around BSU. NO PROPERTY TAX. ACHD is in the process of repaving the main roads in & out of downtown Boise to the connector! I wonder how many of the properties along the way DON’T PAY PROPERTY TAXES? All parks,Government properties,non Profit (St. Lukes), Schools, Churches and CCDC projects, I believe, are off the tax role? Maybe these properties pay some other way for services that are provided to them? Guessing they don’t.

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