Idaho leverages federal funds to cover public safety costs, property tax savings
BOISE - Governor Brad Little and legislators announced Monday the state is leveraging federal coronavirus relief funds to cover local public safety personnel salaries, and giving cities and counties the opportunity to pass on the savings to property taxpayers.
The move is expected to provide up to $200 million in property tax relief.
"Our focus is to support our communities and our police, fire, and EMS personnel and ensure there are no reductions in public safety during these unprecedented challenges. I appreciate the cities and counties working with us to ensure the resulting budget savings are given back to the people of Idaho in the form of property tax relief rather than backfilling local government budgets," Little said.
Idaho received $1.25 billion in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds to address the economic impacts of COVID-19. U.S. Treasury guidelines allow for the funds to cover the payroll of public health and public safety personnel. The Governor and legislators agreed to direct up to $200 million for this purpose to local governments that agree to pass along the resulting budget savings to Idahoans in the form of property tax relief.
House Speaker Scott Bedke said, "Meaningful property tax relief has been the acute focus of lawmakers for several years now. We will continue our efforts to find new ways to provide Idahoans ongoing relief from rising property taxes, but we have an opportunity now to help Idahoans in the short term."
Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill said, "Idaho's fight to slow the spread of coronavirus has worked to protect lives but also created much financial hardship for Idahoans. It was important for state and local government to come together and find ways to provide some relief from the burden of property taxes. I'm proud of the collaboration we have among various levels and branches of government here in Idaho."
"Cities and counties have a unique opportunity before us to support our local public safety personnel and pass on the savings directly to the taxpayers. We appreciate Governor Little and our state elected officials for working with us to support Idahoans during this difficult time," said Bonneville County Commissioner Roger Christensen.
The Governor's Coronavirus Financial Advisory Committee will finalize parameters for local government to participate in the program at its June 10 meeting. Program details will be available at Rebound.Idaho.Gov.
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