Dear Newsletter Readers,
Hope your Christmas was wonderful. We enjoyed every minute of ours and now we can move into 2012 with renewed focus and energy.
As we approach the new year, I wanted to tell you about a great gift given to all of us by the Idaho Freedom Foundation (IFF). They have created a new data base web site with incredibly important information that citizens can use to keep our local, county and state governments accountable.
IFF’s new site is www.accountableidaho.com and includes detailed sections on government SPENDING, PAYROLLS and PROPERTY TAXES. It’s free and you can use it to look up all kinds of data which is downloadable and compatible with Excel. Here’s how the site describes itself:
“Welcome to Idaho's only website for monitoring, tracking and analyzing the spending habits of your schools, highway districts, state and other taxing districts. It's your money and it's your right to see and understand how every penny is spent.
AccountableIdaho.com is designed to help you keep our elected officials accountable, identify possible waste and help our public agencies recognize the importance of close monitoring of every expenditure.”
As I perused the site, some quick messages popped up to inform me of things like this:
“ 219 taxing districts in Idaho have increased their property tax levies by more than 30 percent since 2006.”
“Idaho local government taxing districts collected almost a billion dollars in 2010, an increase of more than 27 percent since 2006.”
“Property taxes too high? The city of Caldwell is one of the highest taxed in the state…61.5% higher than Twin Falls.”
By using the site, you can compare the taxes from one city to another, find out how much NIC’s president makes compared to other community college presidents in the state or see how much the street department in Post Falls spent in 2010 compared to Rathdrum or Coeur d’Alene. The possibilities are endless.
Two features that will be added soon are information on public union contracts throughout the state and a very helpful “Freedom Score” report card for our elected officials.
My hat’s off to the good people at IFF. In addition to their new web site, they also publish the Idaho Pork Report, which is an amazing assembly of unbelievable waste by our government entities. IFF’s director, Wayne Hoffman, pictured above, told me that when they started their first Pork Report three years ago, they weren’t certain they could find enough problems/offenses/stories to fill a small brochure because Idaho is supposedly so conservative with money. Well, the first Pork Report was about 40 pages, the second edition was almost 70 pages long, and this year’s report, which will be published in January, is expected to reach 120 pages. Looks like Idaho has some explaining to do!
So, there you have it, dear readers, some terrific new tools for citizens. We all have a responsibility to keep an eye on our government and make sure they know they work for us, not the other way around.
Later in January I’m going to write about our local taxes in CdA. Will you please help me? Will you send me info on how much your property taxes have increased or decreased since last year? How about your business property taxes and personal property taxes? And, if you live in an urban renewal district, how much goes to LCDC?...has that changed? All info is confidential, of course. Thanks in advance for your help.
Cheers to you and to many more active and informed citizens in 2012! –Mary