The Bellevue City Council voted unanimously on Monday to not include a 3 percent property tax increase in fiscal 2021, as allowed by state law. The city hopes to recoup that funding and more through a disbursement of CARES Act funding from the state of Idaho.

Mayor Ned Burns said in an interview 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. “But we would now have to have a public hearing to let the public know about that.”

The City Council passed a fiscal 2021 not-to-exceed budget of $3,493,467 earlier this month, decreasing expenditures by $521,585 compared to last year. The council voted to approve further budget details Monday that include a salary increase of 3 percent for city employees.

The budget now includes a plan to take advantage of the Idaho Governor’s Public Safety Grant Initiative, which is offering Idaho cities a chance to have the cost for public safety expenses incurred from March 1 through Dec. 30 paid in exchange for forgoing the usual 3 percent tax increase, which would have amounted to $21,300 for Bellevue.

As a result, forgoing a 3 percent increase to the average Bellevue property tax rate will save taxpayers taxes by $9.63 per $100,000 in property value and result in an estimated average rate of $311 per $100,000, states a memo from the city clerk.

In exchange, the city could receive about $161,000 from the state to cover the cost of fire and police services during the specified period.

The City Council agreed to hold off on a second reading of the ordinance authorizing the finalized budget until Sept. 25 to buy some time to consider the legality of the state’s tax relief exchange.

Bellevue city attorney Rick Allington said Bonneville County is suing the state over conditioning CARES Act funding based on a property tax break. He said it is unclear if the exchange plan’s constraints could prove to be illegal.

“There is a risk involved,” Allington said.

City Clerk/Treasurer Marian Edwards

said regardless of whether the city opts into the Idaho Governor’s Public Safety Grant Initiative, the city’s approved budget will accommodate the approved tax break by shifting a variable amount of carryover revenue from the city’s general fund reserves.

In other Bellevue news:

l The City Council put $13,750 in new water hook-up fees and $24,951 in new sewer hook-up fees into local government investment pool capital accounts for future expenditures, which Public Works Director Frank Suwanrit said would result in better interest rates.

Email the writer: tevans@mtexpress.com

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