Scott seeks to clamp down on ‘repeat’ bond issues and levies

A North Idaho lawmaker wants the Legislature to crack down on repeat bond issues and levies.

Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, has proposed a bill that would make school districts and local governments wait at least 12 months before bringing back a failed bond issue or levy proposal.

Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard

“The purpose of this bill is to protect voters from aggressive taxing districts that repeatedly run bonds or levies until they finally pass as a repackaged proposal that’s more palatable, or when availability of voters is at its lowest,” Scott told the House State Affairs Committee Thursday.

Scott said her bill would force taxing districts to carefully craft ballot measures and focus on needs, rather than frills. State Affairs agreed to introduce her bill, which means it could come back for a hearing later in the session. Rep. Elaine Smith, D-Pocatello, voted against introducing the bill.

Repeat school bond issues and levies are not uncommon — and have drawn fire from critics in the past.

For example, voters in the Bonneville School District approved a $55.3 million bond issue for a new high school in November 2015, after three previous attempts failed in 2014 and 2015.

The West Ada School District passed a $96 million bond issue in March 2015, seven months after voters turned down a $104 million proposal.

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And now, the Idaho Falls School District is considering running a scaled-back bond issue in May; in November, voters rejected a $110 million bond issue to upgrade the district’s high schools.

 

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