Popkey: Ada GOP chairman complains about Boise fire, parks bonds

dpopkey@idahostatesman.comOctober 4, 2013 

Boise Mayor Dave Bieter’s Nov. 5 bond proposals have drawn opposition from an influential voice, Ada County Republican Chairman Greg Ferch.

Bieter and the City Council are asking voters to approve two bonds totalling $32.7 million, with $17.2 million to upgrade four fire stations and build a fire training facility and $15.5 million for parks and open space.

Ferch is a businessman who owns several properties in the city limits but recently moved out of the city into unincorporated Ada County and won’t be eligible to vote on the city debt measures.

“I find that crossing the lines of taxation without representation,” Ferch told Republican leaders at a meeting at the Idaho Republican Party headquarters in Downtown Boise Friday morning.

“They try and sell these bond measures as ‘It’s $12 a year for the average homeowner, it’s for the children,’” Ferch said. “Well, what the proponents always leave out of these discussions are the fact that homeowners get the homeowners’ exemption and those of us that own business property get the privilege of paying tax on the full value. The goods and services that are sold out of those businesses have to recoup that increased tax cost somehow and largely that’s done by raising the price.”

Among those hearing Ferch’s opposition were Lt. Gov. Brad Little, House GOP Caucus Chairman John Vander Woude of rural Ada County, Sen. Fred Martin, R-Boise, and GOP Chairman Barry Peterson of Mountain Home.

“It seems largely unfair that I don’t get a say in whether or not people in the North End get to raise my property taxes on a number of properties in the city and I don’t have a voice in it,” Ferch said. “Everybody else does, but not the person with the vested interest.”

Ferch asked whether lawmakers had addressed the issue of property owners who don’t live in a taxing district having a vote. Replied Little: “Constitutionally, it’s been addressed. You’ve got to live in the (taxing juridisdiction.) If you own property but you don’t live (in the city), you don’t get to vote.”

Asked Peterson: “This has been a long-standing issue and nobody’s really come up with a way to mitigate the dilemma have they?”

Replied Vander Woude: “About the only solution people come up with is only property owners get to vote. Nobody’s going there.”

“That’s true,” Peterson replied, “and yet people that don’t own property — like Greg (Ferch) does in this case — they get to vote.”

Said former state Rep. Steve Smylie, R-Boise, who has owned rental properties, “Yeah, but then if the rent goes up they have to pay the higher rent, too. It comes around eventually.”

The conversation occurred during the first meeting of a “First Friday” coffee klatch organized by Peterson and planned for the first Friday of the month at 7:30 a.m. at party headquarters.

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