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FIRE VOTE: Who Should Pay?

Fire Vote: Who Should Pay?

Early voting is now underway in Teton County, Idaho, and the initial feedback has been that the Fire District question on the ballot is a bit confusing.  Here’s the bottom line as to what this election means for your pocketbook: 

  • This election has nothing to do with the Fire District’s budget.  This vote only deals with how the Fire District levies taxes.  (But just as an FYI, the District is actually cutting their 2012 budget by 14%)
  • Since the Fire District was formed, it has taxed all of the improvements, structures, and all of the non-agricultural land in the county.  Regardless of how the vote turns out, land with an agricultural tax exemption is not, and will not be taxed by the Fire District. 
  • Voting YES on the ballot question maintains the status quo and allows the Fire District to continue to assess taxes in the same method as it always has. 
  • Voting NO on the ballot question will mean that only improvements and structures will be taxed – not land.  This means Fire District will have to collect their budget from a significantly smaller pool of taxable properties. 
  • In other words, voting NO will mean that anyone who owns a house, building, or other structure will have to pay roughly 78% more from their current Fire District tax assessment in order to make up for the difference.  (With a NO vote, the Fire District 2012 mill levy is estimated to increase from .0013 to roughly .0024 – even with the 14% budget reduction.)
  • What about houses on larger acreages? Improvements and structures create the bulk of the value on a given piece of land.  Therefore, even if your house sits on a large parcel of land, the money you will save if your land is no longer taxed by the Fire District is likely to be much less than the 78% larger tax bill you will receive for your house.  (See line 3 of the chart below)
  • Who benefits from a NO vote? The primary beneficiaries of a NO vote would therefore be people who own non-agricultural land without any structures or improvements.  The most obvious example would be the owner of a vacant subdivision lot
  • What does this election mean for your pocket book? See the chart below for a breakdown of some examples with real numbers from real properties. 

Fire Vote graph 

PS – The City elections are now open too!

In addition to this ballot question, there are also municipal elections in all three cities. Both Victor and Tetonia are holding elections for Mayor and two city council seats. In Driggs, two city council seats are up for election.  You can vote simultaneously in your city’s election as well as in the Fire District ballot question. 

How to vote:

Teton County has set up THIS PAGE where you can check your registration status, register to vote, and order an absentee ballot.  You can vote early right now via absentee ballot. You can also vote on Election Day, which is Tuesday, November 8th.

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