Another Option Than a Sales Tax Increase
Does Bonners Ferry really need to increase their sales tax 1% to balance their budget? In my opinion, no. Here’s why…
Bonners Ferry City had only one lawyer’s interpretation of the law stating that they can’t legally transfer money from their utility fund to their general fund because they service other areas than the City of Bonners Ferry. In other words, Moyie Springs would be subsidizing the City of Bonners Ferry. Bonners Ferry City charges those outside of city limits, such as Moyie Springs, a higher rate than city residents. In my opinion, give a 5% discount to those residents outside of city limits, and continue to transfer the rest of the utility money. Then Bonners Ferry City would only have that difference to make up. They could keep the majority of the $475k they currently transfer.
But wait! Didn’t property taxes go up recently? Hasn’t everything else gone up recently like food and durable goods? The City would already be benefiting from more sales being charged since goods are more expensive. Between the extra property tax money and sales tax increase the city already has a windfall.
Remember, all three grocery stores are within city limits. If the sales tax is allowed to be increased, the WHOLE county pays for this, not just the city. What about our city businesses? Let’s say you want to change out your windows throughout your home. You will now pay an extra 1% sales tax to do so if you went through Bonners Ferry Glass. Don’t you think some people will not go to Bonners Ferry Glass and will look for a less expensive alternative for the same product? This sales tax increase could affect our local businesses.
When this sales tax increase was first proposed, I sat down with Lisa Alport and Mayor Dick Staples and went through their budget line item by line item. I had been a financial analyst for many years and put budgets together myself. Although the city was “conservative” with their budget, I could definitely see they went to the worse case in expenses and the worse case of income being brought in. This showed for a lopsided budget with your expenses being the highest and your income being the lowest it could be. In my opinion, the numbers were too bloated in both directions. This would show the people a worse-case scenario.
Here’s my suggestion:
1. Get another lawyer’s interpretation of the law if they can’t transfer utility money to the general budget.
2. If they can’t, then reduce outside city serviced homes with a discount and continue to transfer the utility money. Then they are only losing a little instead of the full $475k.
3. Curb expenses just like you and I must balance our budgets. With the increased property tax dollars and sales tax dollars, I’m sure it would be a minor tightening.
4. If need be, maybe increase sales tax a quarter of a percent. Do they really need the full 1%?
I wish Bonners Ferry City would stop with the “fear porn” that they will have to cut police and city street maintenance and find other solutions if the sales tax increase fails.
Remember, once a city sees they can increase sales tax to bring in more money, it will NEVER end! This not only hurts city residents, but the whole county as we all shop within city limits.
How sad they are pushing this sales tax increase when the people are already hurting with everything going up. What can you do?