October 14, 2023
Why I Entered the Race for Pocatello City Council
By: Gary Ekizian
A question commonly asked of candidates is why they are running for office. I’d like to take this opportunity to answer that question.
The simple answer is to, “follow the money.” By that, I don’t mean the compensation that I’ll receive if elected. As a former law enforcement officer, medically retired from an on-the-job injury, any compensation that I receive as a council member must be given back to SSDI. Rather, the primary reason I’m running is to help address the overwhelming residential property taxes being paid by the residents of Pocatello.
While many believe that rising property taxes are primarily the fault of high assessments, this is not true. The key factor driving property taxes is the spending undertaken by government taxing authorities. The fact is, the City of Pocatello is spending too much money. Your money. If the City reduces the portion of spending being funded by taxpayers, your property tax bill will go down.
Government officials like to argue that reduced spending necessitates reduced services. We know, however, that this does not have to be true. As noted by Bannock County Commissioner Ernie Moser in his opinion piece printed in the August 19 edition of the Idaho State Journal, for the coming fiscal year, the County reduced the taxpayer portion of spending, “to make sure we could offer tax relief to our residents.” Moser went on to say, “We reduced our tax ask by using ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds, PILT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) money and grants to address one-time expenses. Not only were we able to reduce our tax ask, but we also made important investments in our employees, our emergency services, and in the Bannock County Fair.” Indeed, County employees saw, “a modest increase…of about 2.4%.”
Ultimately, tax relief for the citizens of Pocatello will only come with a strong city council exercising their authority to promote fiscal responsibility. We need to put taxpayers first, and not spend money on promoting private businesses, such as the city currently does in subsidizing an airline.
If nobody wants to cut their budgets voluntarily, what will they do during a severe economic downturn which we all know is coming soon?
Citizens should know that their city council members put their interests first. Transparency, open and honest communication, and a hard look at budget priorities can deliver a win for the residents of Pocatello, just as it did for Bannock County.