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Board approves solid waste fee hike, new roads tax

— In a pair of hearings Tuesday morning, Sept. 5, the Idaho County Commission approved higher solid waste fees for all as well as a new road and bridge tax for some in order to make the coming year’s budget compute. The board passed both resolutions unanimously.

For the new road and bridge tax, the board resolved: “Whereas Idaho County intends to include $658,298 of its $658,298 in foregone amount in the FY 2018 budget, and, whereas Idaho County requires this extra revenue to compensate for the loss of funding pursuant to the Secure Rural Schools Act in the road and bridge fund, and whereas Idaho County has met the notice and hearing requirements pursuant to Idaho Code…now therefore be it resolved by the unanimous vote taken by the board of Idaho County Commissioners on Sept. 5, 2017, that the above stated amount be included in the property tax to be levied in 2018.”

The Free Press has previously reported that this tax will cost property owners in the county road and bridge jurisdiction – everyone in the county who is not under a different highway district – about $125 per $100,000 in property value. The actual rate depends on the taxable value of all private property in the road and bridge jurisdiction, which will be determined later this year.

“We’re going to have to pay more attention to projects into the future,” commission chairman Skip Brandt said. “We’re going to have to make those decisions whether we’re doing them or not. We’re not dropping the hatchet right now, but that’s on the table.”

“We lost $1.2 million out of the road department,” commissioner Mark Frei chimed in. “With the foregone, we’re now taxing…”

“Some property owners will see their taxes go up,” Brandt interjected, “if they live within the geographical boundaries of the county road and bridge.”

For the solid waste fee increases, the board approved hikes previously reported by the Free Press: from $13.80 per year to $30 per year for city residents; from $397.44 to $430 per year for commercial; and from $198.72 to $215 per year for county residents and ag-exempt properties and $215 for properties classified part-time.

“Can I get your cell phone numbers for when the first calls come in?” assessor James Zehner asked.

“I think you’ve got it,” Brandt answered. “But, of course, we won’t get any of those calls until December. … I’m surprised we don’t have anybody here from city,” Brandt said, ”because that’s the largest increase.”

“Percentage-wise,” Frei said, “but it’s only $30.”

“For folks who realize how much they go to county dumpsters, they’ve got a nice deal,” Brandt said.

Zero members of the general public attended the hearings, which were subject of legal notices printed in the Free Press last month, as well as several news and opinion articles. Reporters affiliated with the Idaho County Free Press, Lewiston Tribune and Central Idaho Post were the only people present who were not on the county payroll.

“The thing I tell people is, it’s not so much that the costs are going up — we’re working with a contractor we’ve got in place – but the tonnage goes up,” commissioner Denis Duman said. “There’s more garbage to haul and the more you haul the more expensive it gets. We’re certainly not raising rates to fatten anybody’s pockets, we’re raising rates to haul off what’s being generated.”

The commission also approved a motion to adopt the county’s main budget resolution, which was scheduled to be signed Tuesday, Sept. 12.


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