Bellevue mails levy increase
Tax increase would cover
demand for services
By MATT FURBER
Express Staff Writer
Bellevue voters will be asked to
decide Tuesday, May 25. whether or not to permit the city to increase
its annual budget levy from .001342 to .003.
The general election also includes
selection of city council members.
It is estimated that under current
assessed valuation of property in the city, the proposed levy increase
will raise an additional $276,667 in property taxes for the city of
Tammy Schofield, Bellevue
To better help the public make an
informed choice, city council members and city staff have put together a
newsletter that explains how the proposed increase to the annual budget
levy will improve the financial health of the city.
In light of the city’s recent
growth, the goal of the levy increase is to help the city maintain
essential services like fire, police and street maintenance, said
Bellevue City Councilwoman Tammy Schofield. She volunteered over 100
hours to create the information packet that was mailed to Bellevue
citizens this week.
"Historically Bellevue has had one
of the lowest property tax rates in the state. The city has worked
within its means, but it has not been preparing for the future," she
Since 1998 the population of
Bellevue has increased 30 percent, and building permits issued have
increased nearly 300 percent in the same period.
"The (levy increase) will help
bring the city budget to a level to meet needs," Schofield said. "We are
trying to establish a healthy viable position for the city financially."
The levy is imposed on assessed
property values and provides property tax revenue necessary to finance
portions of the city’s annual budget. At the current levy rate, a home
with a taxable value of $100,000 would bring the city $133 per year in
property taxes. Taxes were 31 percent of city revenues for fiscal year
"There is no another option for
the city to maintain finances," Schofield said
Every year the city budget is set
at a certain amount and Idaho Code limits increases to 3 percent per
year. The State of Idaho imposed the cap on budget increases in fiscal
year 1992-1993 just as Bellevue began to see considerable growth. The
city had also cut its budget in half prior to the cap, Schofield said.
City council members considered an
increase as high as $389,000. However, after trimming line items in the
budget the $276,667 increase was determined as the most appropriate
"Bellevue has always been a
conservative city," Schofield said. "It has been fun putting this
together, but it has been stressful. It is not like preparing for a
(school) final. It is dealing with people’s lives. You have to make sure
the information is correct. Every city worker has helped to gather the
information about the levy increase."
Councilmen Jon Anderson and Eric
Allen also worked with Schofield to organize the information citizens
will have at their disposal when they make their decision at the polls.
The brochure that should begin
arriving in mailboxes today describes how new revenues will be used to
help provide adequate funding to maintain the city’s essential public
services. The funds if approved by voters will also be used for
maintenance and replacement of aging equipment, maintenance and upgrades
of parks, increases in insurance premiums, and improvements to the city
planning and administration department. The city is also looking to
improve basic services offered at the Bellevue Public Library.
The average homeowner in Bellevue
pays between $152 and $199 a year in property taxes. The city is seeking
an additional $15 to $18 per month. If voters approve an override, the
budget would start at a new level, giving the city a chance to catch up
with the increasing demand for services.
The city’s 2004 budget is $1
million. If approved, the tax increase would go into effect in January