Want Better Streets? You'll Have to Pay For Them

2011-07-27T07:00:00Z 2011-07-27T07:04:44Z Want Better Streets? You'll Have to Pay For Them Twin Falls Times-News
July 27, 2011 7:00 am

Twin Falls Mayor Don Hall is a politician, but never let it be said he isn’t a gutsy politician. On Monday, he uttered the “T” word in a discussion on the condition of the city’s streets.

“T”, of course, means “tax increase” — anathema in a year when Congress seems prepared to let the federal government default on its obligations rather than raise revenue in any form.

Hall’s right: Too many Twin Falls streets are a mess, and more of them are going to end up like Eastland Drive unless the city does something — anything — to find the money to fix them.

“One of the grave concerns that I have is if we are truly dedicating enough money toward our road maintenance,” Hall told the Twin Falls City Council Monday night. “I think in this budget we make great strides toward that, but I wonder if we have the courage to move forward and possibly look for further monetary revenue to address the needs that we have in our road maintenance.”

City staff’s budget proposal for the coming fiscal year calls for $750,000 for road maintenance — $200,000 more than last year — but still more than half a million dollars short of what City Engineer Jackie Fields says she’d want to keep up with annual needs.

Hall pitched a 1 percent revenue increase that would be only one-third of the amount the city can legally raise spending by. City officials cannot directly raise taxes, only the city’s tax-supported spending level.

The increase would equal about $5 more in annual property taxes for a $150,000 property and bring in about $157,000 extra, city Finance Director Lorie Race said. Hall said he would want that money earmarked for roads.

The mayor is sure to get an earful on this issue, but we wonder how many of those complaints will come from folks who have to drive Eastland to work. Next week, the council is obligated to set the city’s maximum spending cap for the year, though it could always spend less. Councilman Lance Clow recommended setting that cap higher than needed and reining it in during subsequent public hearings so the council won’t paint itself into a corner.

That’s good advice.

It comes down to this: Nobody else is going to pay to fix Twin Falls streets — not the federal government, and certainly not the Legislature.

If it gets done, we have to do it ourselves.

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(2) Comments

  1. Tumbleweed49
    Report Abuse
    Tumbleweed49 - July 29, 2011 5:27 am
    What about an option tax, similar to what the folks up north have? That way the people who use the services pay a little extra. It isn't fair to put all the expense on property owners of Twin Falls City, we all need to pay a little more.

    Last I read the Legislature would consider it if it was put on a ballot and passed at the next General election, that's next year.

    I live in the County but shop exclusively in Twin Falls and I would support an option tax. The roads in Twin Falls are a mess and the Police Department needs some more Officers too.

    I think you'd be surprised at the numbers of folks that would support an option tax. It's the only fair way. You could use the Ketchum area's option tax as a model.

    You folks do a good job but let us all help! We all use the services of the City. It only puts a small tax on services we
    all use..only fair.

    Just some thoughts...

    Danny Crafton

  2. valjach
    Report Abuse
    valjach - July 27, 2011 12:34 pm
    I find it very interesting that redoing streets means taking part of home/business owners yards then putting trees and shrubs in the middle of the street like on Washington. Is that the plan for Eastland also? Money to redo streets ok, money to plant trees, shrubs, flowers and the cost to maintain them. NO!

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