Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Higher Tax Rate, Brought to you by ACHD

Congratulations! Every property owner in Ada County is now the proud owner of a higher tax rate courtesy of the Ada County Highway District Commission.

The budget, passed on a 4-1 vote, collects the same amount of taxes as last year, even as the average price of real estate has fallen by 15%. But not to worry. The service will be just as impeccable as always.

Commissioner Rebecca Arnold says that it's important for us to have the $680,000 "communications" budget because all the advertising helps "our citizens" to be aware of what's going on in the district and to be aware of meetings. This is a plausible argument if you do not look past the actual numbers. With a staff of seven people, advertising is not the bulk of the budget.

Commissioner Huber says not to worry since we will be reviewing the budget monthly or quarterly and making adjustments at those times. Of course, this will not impact the collection of property taxes in any way since that ship sailed last night. You are stuck with your new higher tax rate.

And Commissioner McKee was very appreciative of all the hard work the staff did in putting this together. She then related the very sad story of a single mother working for ACHD who was concerned she might not get her overtime.

I did my riff on the state of the economy in Ada County, presented my $1 million in savings and was promptly voted down.

I may have been on the losing side of the vote - nothing new in any one's voting career - but the real losers are the taxpayers of Ada County.


At August 28, 2009 at 12:31 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the effort! Will government agencies ever learn that when times are tough and taxpayers and businesses are tightening their belts, government needs to do the same. The staff may have to face some furlough days, but they still have their jobs, their excellent heath insurance benefits, and their paid holidays -- many, many taxpayers cannot say the same.

At August 29, 2009 at 9:55 AM , Blogger Steven G. Stubbs said...

Baker, this is not a nice question, but can you please tell us when those four seats are up for election? Yep, we need to get this fact out to everyone and boot them all out. They do not represent us, but they represent only the staff at ACHD. Thank you for this piece of news, and your effort to reconcile the budget with the circumstances we all found ourselves in.

At August 29, 2009 at 12:32 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Commissioner Baker,

If your $1M reduction had been approved, would not the average taxpayer still have paid a higher tax rate than last year? Your reduction would have meant a budget reduction of what - approx 1.3% of the budget - which was apparently reduced from an initial proposal of possibly $83M down to $78.7M in the final budget.

Since you didn't mention that, I have to wonder how much of the reduction was recommended or championed by you. How much was championed by those other Commissioner that you talk down about? To have the Commission reduct the budget by approximately $4.3M (in round terms as I don't know what it actually started at) soulds to me as if they DID make some cuts, changes and reductions. How did they do that?? No raises for the staff for the second year in a row, plus the furloughs. What other cuts were made? I understand times are tough, but you ought to mention that the personnel at the District do understand times are hard and are trying to do like many others in the Valley....doing the same, or more with less.

Also, IF all of your proposals had been included and the budget reduced another $1M, how much would that $1M budget reduction have saved the avergae family? I really do understand that $1M is a LOT of money, and saying it sounds really good, but with what - 280,000 people in Boise, 75,000 in Meridian, 12,000 in Kuna, 13,000 in Eagle, 10,000 in Garden City, 3,000 in Star and possibly another 15,000 in unincorporated Ada County, that totals about 410,000 in the ACHD taxing zone. Figure about 5 people per household - that could also take into consideration renters, larger/smaller families etc., that means each household would have saved another $13 or so...just rough math, but my computer is broken and i'm using a napkin. On my property tax, that amounts to about 0.86% of the taxes. What did the Boise, Meridian, and other muncipality tax rates do??

I agree that government should be fiscally responsible with our money - and yes, some of it is my money - but you should disclose more of the imformation so people can see how much they are really out. Oh, by the way, I'm not a Commissioner, just an informed citizen in your District and most all of the information is available at ACHD's website and via the Census Bureau

At August 29, 2009 at 12:57 PM , Blogger Sara said...

Dear Steven G Stubbs. There are two seats up in 2010, District 3 and District 4.

Go here for the maps and other info.


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