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Boise mayor’s budget proposal increases police force

June 22, 2021 GMT

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The mayor of Boise has proposed a budget adding 17 workers to the police department, including 11 officers.

The Idaho Statesman reported Tuesday that Mayor Lauren McLean’s budget also includes three training instructors, an evidence analyst, a civilian investigator and an information technology worker.

Officials said that would give the department 332 sworn officers and 91 non-sworn positions.

The city also has a new independent Office of Police Accountability and wants to fill that position with a full-time employee instead of the half-time position budgeted under an office overseen by the mayor.

Overall, McLean is proposing a $276.2 million budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year that runs from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, 2022.

That’s an increase of $37.6 million, or 15.7%, from the current budget. That includes $17.4 million carrying over from the current budget and $20.2 million in added revenue expected from property taxes, sales taxes and development fees.

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“As Boise continues to grow, we know the top priorities of our community are housing, climate, transportation, economic development, and public safety,” McLean wrote in her budget message. “This budget meets our goals of ensuring we can continue to provide the services our residents rely on and invest in smart solutions to meet the needs of our growing city.”

Of every dollar of general fund revenue collected by the city, 27 cents goes to the police department. The Boise Fire Department receives 19.9 cents of every dollar. The Parks and Recreation Department receives 11.8 cents, while the library receives 5.4 cents and public works 2.8 cents.

Eric Bilimoria, a senior budget manager for the Boise Department of Finance and Administration, said a new state law limiting property tax collections tied to growth will cost Boise about $700,000. He said the city expects to collect $7.5 million less over the next five years due to the new law.

“Rather than being able to assess taxes for 100% of the value of growth, only 90% can be collected. This reduces the ability of municipalities to maintain service levels when growth occurs,” he told the newspaper.

Boise plans to boost the amount of revenue collected from property taxes the full 3% allowed, resulting in an increased cost of $42 for the average Boise homeowner. The average property tax bill would increase from an average of $1,122 to $1457, a $335 increase.

Bilimoria said most of that increase is due to the end of one-time relief involving federal coronavirus money, the diminishing value of the homeowner’s exemption and the rate of growth for residential properties compared to commercial properties.