The IAC Intergovernmental Affairs Committee is responsible for all matters pertaining to financial resources of counties, federal assistance, municipal borrowing, county revenues, grants, mandates and self-determination. In addition, the committee is responsible for matters pertaining to issues dealing with county structure, procedures, management, intergovernmental relations, elections, liability costs and insurance, and maintaining a line of communication between the counties, cities, state and federal governments, thereby providing a forum for discussion of ideas and issues of mutual concern.
Mary Lou Hansen
(Twin Falls County)
|Statement of Basic Philosophy||
The Idaho Association of Counties (IAC) affirms its basic objective of strengthening county and local government and asserts its belief that counties as created by the constitution of the state of Idaho are more than local branches of the state or federal government. The level of government closest to the people must be used for all public functions it can handle. Intergovernmental agreements must be utilized where appropriate to attain economical performance and approval. To provide valuable education and support services that will maximize efficiency and foster public trust in county government. IAC considers the relationship between counties, cities, and state agencies an essential component of performing the duties imposed on counties by Idaho law. For example, continued communication with the State Tax Commission provides a more efficient and accountable tax system, which is maintained and leads to a more effective partnership for the citizens of Idaho.
Reserve national action where state and local governments are not fully adequate and for the responsibilities that national governments can take. We should leave to private initiative all the functions that citizens can perform privately while encouraging a partnership between local governments and the business community. In order to effectively achieve a partnership of counties and to achieve the goals of county government, the IAC strongly supports the National Association of Counties (NACo) because of NACo’s active role in representing counties before Congress and the various federal agencies. Consequently, IAC encourages all Idaho counties to maintain their membership in NACo and actively participate in NACo organizations and functions.
|Role of the Federal Government||
The federal government must recognize the partnership aspect of the federal system of government and the inalienable right of state and local purpose governments to participate in the decision-making process of that system. It must further recognize that because local government is the closest to the citizenry it is often best equipped to deliver services and administer programs. Strong county government is an essential component and partner in the effective operation of the federal, state and local government activities. The federal government must encourage early and meaningful involvement of elected public officials and their representative organization in all aspects of federal decision-making.
|Role of State Government||
The relationship between the state of Idaho and its counties should be one of partnership. The state needs to recognize the counties are general-purpose units of government that provide services to its citizens. The state government must encourage early and meaningful involvement of elected public officials and their representative organizations in all aspects of state decision-making. Counties will work with the state to secure funding for new or expanded programs, but they need to resist the imposition of new mandates that are not fully funded.
Local general-purpose units of governments are the basic building blocks in solving regional problems. Any consideration of a regional approach must be based on the need to strengthen and improve the capability of local government to serve the people.
There must be recognition of issues that cross city and county lines. These issues must be dealt with cooperatively. A wide range of alternatives exists for solving regional problems, some of which include: inter-local agreements, governmental reorganization, shared facilities and staffing, consolidation of special districts, etc. In weighing these alternatives, local officials should determine their own policies and procedures for implementing regional decisions.
IAC supports intergovernmental cooperation in the creation of local non-property tax policies and practices to minimize competition between local governments, to reduce taxpayers’ compliance burdens and to reduce government’s enforcement costs by:
|Role of Cities||
With the changing demands of government, counties and cities must closely coordinate their activities. Working together, county and city officials should explore more areas of cooperation, including inter-local agreements, transfer of functions to the county level, and joint city/county projects. Counties and cities should join in the effort to obtain as much self-determination as possible. IAC finds it essential to work with its sister organization, the Association of Idaho Cities, on all issues of mutual concern.
|Single Purpose Taxing Districts||
State laws should have provisions to control the creation and expansion of single purpose taxing districts to increase their visibility, accountability and to require them to coordinate their functions with counties and cities. IAC supports simple procedures for merging, consolidating and dissolving special districts upon finding that the service provided by a district is (1) no longer needed, or (2) can be better performed by an existing unit of local government or a consolidated special district.
IAC supports the creation of a uniform taxing district law dealing with the creation and dissolution of all single purpose taxing districts.
Historically, cities and counties are the only general-purpose units of local government. General Purpose units of government provide such services as public safety, environment, housing, social services, transportation and others, due to their broad authority and police powers. In Idaho, the only entities with ordinance authority are cities, counties and the Ada Count Highway District. IAC has supported keeping such ordinance authority only with general purpose units of government and not extended to single-purpose governments.
Counties and the private sector are encouraged to work toward establishing cooperative relationships to improve the productivity and efficiency of local government. Such efforts will obtain the maximum services at the minimum cost thereby benefiting the community as a whole.
IAC believes in a system of free and open elections which encourages and increases voter participation. All primary and general elections for state and county office should be conducted by the county clerks consistent with the provisions of Idaho and federal law.
|Mandates and Fiscal Impacts||
Mandates — IAC supports the policy that any new or expanded program mandated by the federal government, state government or other agencies must have funding provided from such mandating entity. Counties will continue to work with the state and its agencies to secure funding for new or expanded programs, but counties require the authority to not provide services required if funds are not available.
Fiscal Impacts — IAC supports the policy to ensure that the fiscal impact on local governments will be as carefully considered in proposed legislation as impacts upon the state general fund. (Joint Rule 18 of the Idaho House and Senate) This requirement should be expanded to require all agencies to determine the fiscal impact on local government.
|Taxation and Finance||
Counties, as political subdivisions of the state of Idaho, but with closer relationships with the people, have a right and a responsibility to raise the necessary revenues, unhindered by federal or state impositions or restrictions, in order to finance critical, basic public services of a wide variety, many of which are federally or state mandated.
1. Property Taxes — Idaho’s counties should have the ability to finance county government by means other than relying primarily on the traditional, inadequate and often overburdened property tax.
Still, the property tax must be regarded as a necessary part of an overall tax system because it raises a substantial amount of money and is, in fact, the largest single source of county tax revenue and is also the most stable source for local government. The assessment of property should be performed on a timely basis utilizing the most accurate procedures and in accordance with the standards of the International Association of Assessing Officers. Property tax revenues are no longer sufficient to support all functions of local government, and the property tax is no longer the best measure of a person’s ability to pay. However, the IAC opposes any effort to limit the ability of counties to raise revenues necessary to meet mandated services of any other service demanded by a county’s residents.
The state of Idaho should make payments-in-lieu-of-taxes to counties for any loss in property tax revenues caused by any legislation or state action that reduces or exempts property from taxation. The state also should provide additional sources of tax revenue in any proposal to modify the ability of counties to collect property tax. Should the state of Idaho (Tax Commission) take a position involving the collection of property taxes that is not upheld by the courts nor supported by the counties and results in a refund or credit to taxpayers, it is the position of IAC that the state be required to make any refunds out of state monies.
Property tax dollars should be directed toward services needed by the general public. The administrative cost of collection of property taxes currently is quite reasonable in relation to county operating budgets. Therefore, IAC opposes any change in property tax collection laws that adversely impacts or increases county administration costs.
2. Local Option — To supplement the revenues of counties where the property tax is deemed by the county to be either inappropriate or inadequate for the necessary funds for county functions, IAC joins with its sister organization, the Association of Idaho Cities, in support of broad-based authority to impose local option taxes including income taxes, sales taxes, rents, fees, licenses, franchises, excise taxes or any other tool necessary to fund county services. Such methods may be in lieu of, or in addition to, the use of the property tax. Furthermore, IAC believes that broad-based local option authority should be granted only to counties and cities as general-purpose units of government.
IAC does support the removal of the sunset provision on the county local option sales tax for jails and detention facilities.
3. Inter-Fund Loans — IAC supports legislation to allow counties and other multi-fund taxing districts to borrow money and issue non-interest bearing notes from one fund to another in anticipation of future revenue during a current fiscal year.
4. Interest Earnings — Investment of monies in the county treasury is complex requiring daily adjustment and resulting in the near impossibility of computation of interest earnings by fund. Further, pooling of funds in the county treasury results in greater interest earnings on investments for the county. IAC strongly supports the deposit of interest earnings to the county current expense or general fund in part to reimburse counties for the cost of administration of the investments.
5. Urban Renewal — IAC supports continued efforts to reform the Urban Renewal and Economic Development statutes providing legislation for accountability, oversight, closure and limiting use of Tax Increment Financing for economic development; promoting statewide education on the affects of Revenue Allocation Areas and Tax Increment Financing on the property tax base. levies and budgets of cities, counties, school districts and other taxing districts within a Revenue Allocation Area.
6. Grants — IAC supports the requirement to have the state legislature provide a flow through process for grants similar to PILT and Revenue Sharing. Once received by the county, the county would ensure that the spending is within the guidelines of the grant.
7. Fees — IAC opposes any additional fees tacked on to function performed by counties unless a proportionate share is returned to the counties for performing those functions.
8. Property Tax Exemptions — IAC opposes an exemption that causes any loss of property tax revenue unless the Idaho Legislature provides replacement revenue including a growth factor that may be indexed to inflation. IAC also supports a complete and thorough review and analysis of the current property tax system, including the impacts of exemptions on the ability to raise revenue and the effect on the balance in the system, as well as a review of the classification of property for any purpose including exemptions.
9. Taxation Procedures — IAC supports changes to the law which implements modern standards and practices. The growth in responsibility for assessment and collection of taxes requires the counties to find faster and more efficient methods for managing their duties. The reliability and prevalent use of computers and photographic technology enables expeditious retrieval and inter-office access; but, the current statutes (with detailed procedures established for a manual system) hinder the counties’ ability to maximize computer efficiency. Counties serve the public and should structure their operations to ensure that the public receives prompt service, and that procedures be in place to protect their interests. These procedures should assure that taxes are assessed fairly and that administrative difficulties do not result in unfair taxes, interest or penalties. The system should also provide timely notification and an opportunity to resolve disputes. It is also important that there are adequate enforcement policies and methods to ensure that people pay their taxes. The failure of some to pay their taxes results in a penalty to those who do pay. Those who pay have a right to expect that each pay their fair share.
10. Industrial Litigation — IAC supports the development and continuation of the Industrial Litigation fund to assist counties in funding and fighting industrial litigation cases.
11. Development Impact Fees — IAC does support the use of development impact fees to enable growth to pay for some of their costs. However, the complexity and high cost of creating and implementing an impact fee program need to be carefully analyzed. The impact fee law should be revised to eliminate an impediment for their use and allow for a simpler and more streamlined system.
12. Tax Deeding — IAC supports holding local government harmless if property becomes delinquent and the county must tax deed the property. All costs, including taxes, penalty and interest, advertising and maintaining the property must be paid first.
13. Exemptions/Abatement of Taxes — IAC supports giving Board of County Commissioners the ability to make determination for exemption or abatement of taxes at the local level for a limited time to encourage economic development.
14. General Sales Taxes and Streamlined Sales Tax — IAC believes that sales taxes should be collected on the widest variety of goods and services in order to keep the state tax rate as low as possible while still generating the necessary revenue.
Flexibility in County Government — IAC supports the provision of more flexibility in county government.
Biennial Sessions — IAC supports biennial sessions of the legislature, or designation of every other year as a budget session only.
Optional Forms of County Government — IAC supports the availability and use of optional forms of county government.
Technology — IAC supports changes to the law that would enable counties to utilize current technological enhancements. For example, promoting the use of personal computers, electronic storage, electronic transmission of information such as e-assessment notices and e-tax bills and electronic payments. As these enhancements are developed, counties will need to develop standards to ensure accountability for their usage.
Public Records and Records Management — IAC supports county development of a records management system to provide consistency and uniformity in handling and destruction of records.
Open Meetings — IAC supports clarifications to the open meeting law that better defines the requirements for executive sessions and the providing of minutes for such sessions.
Qualification-Based Selection of Design Professionals (QBS) — IAC supports the use of QBS for procurement of design professional serves as an effective and efficient alternative to traditional low bid procedures.
|Bob McQuade||Ada County Assessor|
|Vicky McIntyre||Ada County Treasurer|
|Sherry Ward||Adams County Clerk|
|Radene Barker||Bannock County Treasurer|
|Tricia Poulsen||Bear Lake County Treasurer|
|Glenda Poston||Boundary County Clerk|
|Lori Beck||Butte County Treasurer|
|Gene Kuehn||Canyon County Assessor|
|Craig Hanson||Canyon County Commissioner|
|Joe Larsen||Cassia County Clerk|
|Carrie May||Clark County Assessor|
|Carrie Bird||Clearwater County Clerk|
|Bill Baxter||Fremont County Commissioner|
|J'Lene Cherry||Fremont County Treasurer|
|Justin Baldwin||Gooding County Assessor|
|Helen Edwards||Gooding County Commissioner|
|Mike McDowell||Kootenai County Assessor|
|Patrick Vaughan||Latah County Assessor|
|Lois Reed||Latah County Treasurer|
|Mary Ann Heiser||Lemhi County Treasurer|
|Pauline Malone||Lewis County Treasurer|
|Linda Jones||Lincoln County Assessor|
|Jon Weber||Madison County Commissioner|
|Sherry Arnold||Madison County Treasurer|
|Max Vaughn||Minidoka County Assessor|
|Laura Twiss||Minidoka County Treasurer|
|Dan Anderson||Nez Perce County Assessor|
|Barb Fry||Nez Perce County Treasurer|
|Sharon Worley||Payette County Assessor|
|Betty Dressen||Payette County Clerk|
|Donna Peterson||Payette County Treasurer|
|Deanna Curry||Power County Treasurer|
|Georgia Plischke||Washington County Assessor|
|Tom Anderson||Washington County Commissioner|
|Steve Fiscus||State Tax Commission|