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Wednesday, May 19, 2004


Levy question goes to voters

Bellevue seeks tax increase to provide municipal services

Express Staff Writer

The Bellevue City Council is trying to boost the city’s ability to provide municipal services by increasing revenues that can be collected through property taxes.

To do so the council is asking Bellevue voters to approve an increase in the city’s property tax rate in a special election Tuesday, May 25.

The average homeowner in Bellevue currently pays between $152 and $199 a year in property taxes. The city is seeking an additional $180 to $216 from property owners, on average, per year. The current mil levy rate is .001342. The proposed rate is .003.

A final public information meeting was hosted by the City Council Tuesday night at the Bellevue Elementary School, but, in the few days before the special election, council members and city staff are making themselves available to explain why the city needs to pass the proposed levy.

The goal of the levy increase is to help the city maintain essential services like fire, police and street maintenance in light of the city’s recent growth, said Bellevue City Councilwoman Tammy Schofield.

The proposed increase is intended to improve the financial health of the city by bringing the annual budget to a new level, which depending on assessed valuation of property in the city, would add about $276,667 in property taxes to the annual budget.

"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," Schofield said.

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."

Schofield said the city council has exhausted all other avenues for raising funds needed to keep up with demand for city services.

"The demand for services on Bellevue can only be met by increasing the general budget," she 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.

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 number.


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