Officials come together for COVID property tax relief

by CRAIG NORTHRUP
Staff Writer | June 10, 2020 1:00 AM

The No. 1 and No. 2 leaders in Idaho found common ground Tuesday, signifying a cease-fire in a perceived stand-off that made national headlines during the pandemic.

“In these times of a crisis,” Gov. Brad Little said during his weekly AARP-sponsored conference call, “the no-action alternative is not acceptable. Whether it’s the health care, whether it’s the economic prosperity, in all these areas, we have to get things done, and we have to get them done pretty rapidly.”

Little and Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin joined together during that conference call to champion the governor’s newest plan to provide a modicum of property tax relief through city and county budgets. It’s a move designed to help Idaho property owners by using federal CARES Act funds to pay up to 103 percent of city and county public safety workers like police officers and firefighters, so long as those salaries aren’t funded by property taxes. It’s a proposal in keeping with McGeachin’s public wishes.

“It’s important now that we all work together as we help to rebuild Idaho and the economy in our community,” McGeachin said. “On April 14, I wrote a letter to the governor, and I asked him to consider some things that would be helpful to the people of Idaho in the form of tax relief, whether it was a reduction of sales tax to our citizens, reducing corporate or individual income tax, or a reduction on individual property tax. As a small business owner myself, and having run on a platform to support our business community in Idaho, I wish to thank the governor for agreeing to substantial tax relief to the citizens of Idaho.”

On May 8, McGeachin openly critiqued Little’s stay-home order and Rebound Idaho plan, saying he was abusing his authority by using the police to close businesses. She has also attended rallies that both protested and defied Little’s stay-home orders, twice supporting businesses that opened before the Rebound Idaho staged plan.

A total of 3,220 Idahoans have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, 31 of whom tested positive Monday. Eighty-five Idahoans have died from the disease.

The difference in opinion over how to handle the pandemic made national headlines after Little acknowledged in a May 14 press conference he had not spoken with McGeachin in three weeks. Little downplayed the rift at the time.

This week, citing Little’s response to COVID-19, a petition by was filed with the Idaho Secretary of State’s office to recall the governor; the petition will need over 183,000 signatures in 75 days to successfully get the recall on the November ballot.

But Tuesday, the two joined together in a virtual moment of reconciliation.

“It’s important for all of us as elected leaders to communicate directly and regularly with the people we serve,” McGeachin said, “and I appreciate Gov. Little for making this a priority throughout his term as governor, and especially during this coronavirus situation.”

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McGeachin