March 2, 2023

Why I Voted Against the Supplemental Property Tax Levy for School District 25

By: Raymond Knoff

Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25 currently has a supplemental levy on the ballot to increase property taxes by $16.5 million dollars over the next two years.  Early walk-in voting on this supplemental levy started on Monday, February 27, 2023 and will end on Friday, March 10, 2023.  Election day voting will be on March 14, 2023.

You can find the facts and information for the supplemental levy renewal here.

After examining the school district’s budget for the last ten years, I discovered the school district had a budget surplus of $19,534,803.  This  information was obtained by examining page 115 of the Annual Comprehensive Financial Report of fund balances for the ten year period ranging from 2013 to 2022.  That information is located here.

Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25 has also received $29,894,655 in Covid Relief Aid from the federal government.  You can find this information by searching for Pocatello at this website.

It seems a substantial budget surplus has recently allowed School District 25 to purchase two local properties.  In late November of 2022, Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25 purchased the former Allstate Insurance Building in Chubbuck for $12.6 million (here).  On its website, school district 25 admits in paragraph eight that “the district currently has funds set aside to make the vision a reality without the need to bond the project.”  Rather than seeking a bond to allow the voters to exercise their informed consent, the school district purchased the property with a budget surplus.

The school district also recently purchased the Downard Funeral Home for $500,000, without  petitioning the district’s voters for a bond.  (See the details here, here, and here.)

Several people have previously expressed reservations about School District 25 asking for additional tax dollars when they have a large budget surplus.

In particular, one citizen has wondered, “is it possible the supplemental levy has largely been supported for so many years because of “built in” educator votes?”

I am personally concerned that this supplemental property tax levy is on the ballot during March of an odd-numbered year, when many voters are unaware that any election is occurring.  School District 25 has sponsored a series of public presentations offering information about the goals of the supplemental levy and the date of the election.  However, these presentations have been made to a limited number of groups either selected by the school district, or solicited by the group itself.  School board meetings record that the Board of Trustees for the Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25 have been made aware of the locations and the dates of these presentations.  Perhaps this information was made available to the general public before these presentations, so that they might attend these meetings and offer comments.  However, I have been unable to find any record of either the dates or the locations of these presentations.  The only readily accessible, public information I can find relating to these presentations is found in the video of the school board meeting of February 14, 2023, from time stamp 20:30 to time stamp 22:56.

The supplemental levy only requires a simple majority to pass.  It has been passed and the property tax increases have taken place for the previous four years.  However, I have voted against the final two years of this supplemental levy, which is currently on the ballot until March 14 of this month.  I have taken this position because school district 25 obviously has a surplus of funds which they have recently used to purchase two properties costing a total of $13.1 million, without submitting either of these purchases to the taxpayers on a ballot to obtain their informed consent.

Property assessments and property taxes are currently at an all-time high in Pocatello, and many taxpayers are suffering not only from these increased taxes, but from an increasing monetary inflation.  If you don’t want to encourage further government spending which has bypassed your chance to make informed consent via your ballot, I suggest you might want to vote against the current supplemental levy proposed by Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25.  You have the opportunity to cast an early vote right now, or you can wait until March 14, 2023, to cast your vote.

Raymond G. Knoff,

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