Latah County, Moscow still undecided on using CARES Act funds

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Follow the money. If the Moscow City Council and the Latah County Commissioners are hesitant, it’s not because this is bad for taxpayers but it’s bad for them. 

The Moscow City Council and Latah County Commissioners again delayed their decision to accept or reject state initiative funding that would provide property tax relief to local taxpayers.

The city council made its decision at Tuesday’s council meeting and the commissioners made the call at a meeting Wednesday. The county commissioners likely will make a decision Monday.

Gov. Brad Little proposed the Public Safety Initiative Grant, which utilizes federal Coronavirus, Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds, that would provide funding for public safety payroll expenses to city and county governments that agreed to participate in the initiative, and further agreed to provide the resulting savings as property tax relief to the taxpayers of the participating local governments by foregoing the taxes that would otherwise traditionally have been collected.

Many Idaho municipalities have chosen not to opt into the funding because they worried Little’s program was illegal. Moscow and Latah County officials share the same concerns.

Riedner said Tuesday that accepting the $1.6 million will reduce property taxes but “it won’t be a huge amount of money.”

Let them eat cake! 

Latah County Treasurer BJ Swanson said at the county’s fiscal 2021 budget hearing last month that large commercial property owners would reap great property tax relief if commissioners accept the $1.9 million, but a small single-family homeowner would experience very little relief.

Let them eat cake!

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