Welcome to Boise for the annual IAC Midwinter Legislative Conference. I’m excited to see everyone as we roll up our sleeves and work with the Legislature on issues important to counties. As you meet with your legislators, I want to make sure you are up to speed with where things stand with ongoing discussions on property tax relief and public defense funding.
IAC staff are working with legislators on a bill to allow counties to create independent poultice defense districts. The creation of public defense districts is optional. No county will be forced to join one. In addition to establishing public defense districts, the bill will also fully fund public defense with a new sales tax distribution dedicated to public defense much like there is a distribution dedicated to consolidated elections. In exchange for receiving full satiate funding for public defense, counties would be required to reduce property tax budgets, removing public defense expenditures from the base property tax budget. The bill also repeals the county medically indigent program once and for all. If enacted, counties would be able to reduce county property tax budgets by $35 million annually.
IAC is working on a second legislative piece to restructure the public defense commission. As currently drafted, the bill would remove a designated seat for the Idaho Juvenile Justice Commission, increase the number of county commissioners on the commission by two (bringing the total number of county representatives on the commission to four), and adds an additional public defender with juvenile criminal defense experience to the commission. The net increase to the commission would be three members.
On the property tax front, there are four concepts gaining traction:
– Increasing the median residential value for determining eligibility for the circuit breaker program from 125% to 200% of county median home value.
– Institute a five-year moving average assessment valuation methodology for determining the taxable value of real property.
– Establishment of a county local option property tax dedicated to reducing property tax budgets. The local option tax would be capped at 1% of taxable sales with proceeds dedicated to reducing property tax levies for non-school taxing districts, including counties.
– Jump start allocation of online sales tax funds to local governments by requiring 50% of the funds to be used for property tax relief. The remaining 50% would be used for general budget purposes.
IAC policy staff will have a full update for the membership during the Tuesday morning general session of the conference. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions, comments, or concerns.