The Bellevue City Council voted Monday to pursue the Idaho Governor’s Public Safety Grant Initiative, which will cover the cost for public safety expenses incurred from March 1 through Dec. 30 in exchange for forgoing the usual 3 percent tax increase, which would have amounted to $21,300 for Bellevue.

The deal is expected to bring $161,168 to the city, yielding a net increase of $139,868.

The City Council voted last month to not include the typical 3 percent property tax increase in fiscal 2021 in the hope of recouping more than seven times that amount of CARES Act funding from the state.

City Attorney Rick Allington said his concern that the grant would face a legal challenge, leaving the city uncertain about its finances, was allayed by recent letters from the Idaho Attorney General’s Office and the Idaho Division of Financial Management.

“This is as much backing as we are going to get on this,” Mayor Ned Burns said.

Nevertheless, City Treasurer Marian Edwards was instructed by Allington to earmark all expenses from the CARES Act funding for specific first responder expenses “just to cover ourselves.”

City Council Chairwoman Kathryn Goldman said in an interview that she felt “frustrated” Monday about the governor’s property tax relief fund program.

“My frustration about how this is set up isn’t just around the fact that it was less than clear how the funds could be used from the start,” Goldman said. “It’s that there are people in Bellevue who are holding up our community doing frontline work in the pandemic who aren’t getting this help. There are other ways to distribute these CARES funds.”

Burns said in August that that although the 3 percent tax increase will not be collected next year, the city has the right to collect it at some point in the future.

“There is a chance that the council will determine that it is not needed, but I assume at some point that 3 percent will be collected,” Burns said.


Other Bellevue news

The City Council held a second reading and waived a third reading of the fiscal 2021 budget of $3,493,467.

The council amended the fiscal 2020 budget from $4,015,052 to $4,104,768.

The council agreed to authorize a collaboration with Hailey, the Ketchum/Sun Valley Sewer and Water District and Mid-Valley Waste Water Treatment Plant (The Meadows) on a request for qualifications for a biosolids composting operation.

Email the writer: tevans@mtexpress.com

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