Vicky McIntyre is no longer the Ada County Treasurer, but she has strong views regarding the financing strategy of the County Commishes. She offers them in this guest opinion.
By VICKY McINTYRE
Did I Miss the Vote?
Article 8, Section 3, of Idaho’s Constitution requires two-thirds (2/3) of voters to approve any government indebtedness that will last more than a year. Despite this clear provision, local leaders continue to defy both the letter and intent of Idaho’s Constitution, causing our property taxes to rise without appropriate voter input.
On October 1, 2020 (the first day of Ada County’s new 2021 budget year) the Idaho Health Facilities Authority and the Ada County Commission entered into Primary Lease Contract #14096 instructing the Health Authority to issue “Lease Revenue Bonds” for the county to finance the “$46.4M Ada County Coroner Project”.
The primary lease document references Idaho Statute 39-1441 that allows a County to contract with other entities “to acquire, construct, reconstruct, renovate, improve, replace, maintain, repair, operate, lease as lessee or lessor and regulate one or more health facilities.…” The lease also refers to Idaho Statute 31-836 “to enter into any lease, either as a lessor or a lessee, or other transaction with Authority concerning any County property for a term not to exceed NINETY-NINE (99) YEARS” (emphasis added)
Also on October 1, 2020, the Idaho Health Facilities Authority and Ada County entered into Agreement 14098 for the “Annual Appropriation Lease Agreement”. This is where the aforementioned agreement gets paid for, using our taxpayer dollars!
According to their website, the Idaho Health Facilities Authority “was established by the Idaho Legislature in 1972 to issue bonds and notes for the purpose of improving health care for residents of this state by providing less expensive financing for health care facilities. “ (https://idhfa.org/)
Does a Coroner’s suite really constitute health care facilities? By the time someone needs the coroner, it’s too late for better health care! Taxpayers should have been consulted before the county incurred this long-term indebtedness. Calling this financial configuration a lease agreement is “FUZZY FINANCING”. (Fuzzy Financing is how the Ada County Courthouse and the Boise Centre on the Grove were built.)
Why are Ada County Commissioners voting on long-term (lease) debt instead of Ada County’s taxpayers? What is the difference between a long-term lease payment and a taxpayer-approved bond payment? The difference is the voice of the taxpayer in the decision process. Long-term leases, at their core, violate both the letter and the intent of the Idaho Constitution, which is designed to protect us from government overreach and unreasonable taxation. This fuzzy financing increases your property taxes!
How can citizens control government spending? The Idaho Legislature convenes on January 11, 2021.
–Contact your legislators to make sure they review how governmental entities use long-term leases to circumvent the Idaho Constitution and ask them to provide property tax relief for homeowners.
–Contact Commissioner Kendra Kenyon to voice your disapproval of this type of funding. She is the one remaining Commissioner who voted for this contract.
–Review proposed county budgets, coming out in the next several months and attend your County budget presentation this summer. Show up and be vocal!
EDITOR NOTE–As always the GUARDIAN will offer space to opposing views. Please remember to keep comments within the realm of civil discourse.
To insure more advertising-free Boise Guardian news, please consider financial support.