Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Local Taxing Districts Can Be Taxing

Kootenai County has many small taxing districts. Road districts, Fire and water and sewer as well. Most of the time these are operated without much friction by dedicated local citizens that spend many hours of thankless work keeping things moving. Until, of course something goes wrong.

A sudden rate increase, as recently happened in Bayview, or a couple of years ago a dust-up with Timberlake Fire District contracting out management to another larger district, can provoke instant negative involvement from otherwise quiet members.

Currently, a problem has cropped up in Carlin Bay. A community of upscale homes, many on waterfront, has hit a bump. It seems the Carlin Bay Property owners Association is calling for an expensive upgrade to it's sewer system, which depends on a leaky sewer lagoon. Officers of this organization are pushing for a huge increase in taxes to maintain and improve the system as it exists.

Others, perhaps even the majority, want to merge with another larger district with infrastructure already in place. Here is where the problem is. Many of these small boards are made up of community leaders that do not want to relinquish control. The big frog in a small pond phenomenon is an issue in many of these districts. Some personalities have a need to control others. On a larger stage, we call them politicians.

In the case of Carlin Bay, a water district of about 140 members, of which many are vacant lots owned by absentees. some members are claiming violation of bylaws, unequal assessments and various other sins of commission and omission. I was contacted by a member of this organization that vehemently oppose the board of directors, and base this information on their representations.

As Carlin Bay and other small districts grow, all will face at some point consolidation. In the case of sewage disposal, environmental concerns will force actions that thirty years ago were ignored. Existing effluent, both above the ground in personalities, and below in amounts taxing nature's ability to neutralize will force modernization and consolidation, but probably not peacefully.


Anonymous said...

Same story............. The self important few, deciding the outcome for all.


Anonymous said...

Take Bayview as a example - the few old dogs think they need to be in charge but clueless in operating a efficient business like enterprise. The fall back on these taxing district is the ability to squezee its taxing members without repercussion. I think we need to get state laws passed to allow these districts to be competitive or be take over by private enterprise with the state of Idaho Public Utility oversight. Private enterprise is always more efficient with market forces than big government. Lets push for state laws to be changed and put these dogs on notice.