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Idaho Falls School District Trustees vote to dispute tax levy decision

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IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) - The Idaho Falls School District Board of Trustees plans to dispute a decision by the Idaho State Tax Commission to not certify a levy to build a new elementary school.

Voters passed a 10-year, $33-million plant facilities levy back in May.

The Board voted Wednesday morning to file a complaint with the courts to seek a declaration of the interpretation of the statutes in question, they said.

They said at issue is whether school districts can have two plant facilities levies in place at the same time.

In a letter to parents, the district reported the tax commission's rule states districts can only have one plant fund but doesn't stipulate if school districts can only have one levy. The district responded saying it makes sense because the prohibition on multiple funds clearly was designed to prevent districts from going around limitations on levy amounts.

“We are extremely disappointed in the commission’s position and we strongly disagree with its interpretation of the state statutes,” said D91 Board Chair Hillary Radcliffe. “We plan to file this complaint because, as board members, we feel we need to do everything we can to protect local control, and to provide students with safe, secure learning environments.”

The approach to building a new elementary school is a new strategy for the school district after bonds have failed to gain approval.

Instead of getting all the money upfront from a bond, this approach would allow the district to levy $3.3 million a year over ten years.

"A bank trust company will then lease us the money to give us some money to build a new facility, which we will then use that $3.2 million a year to pay back that lease like on a lease to own. That's kind of how I've seen it described. And at the end of ten years, we'll own the building," Radcliffe said before the bond was approved in May.

The board said they will continue to make plans for a new elementary school. They said, "However, the dispute with the tax commission may delay construction and slow the district’s progress on other critical facilities issues. It also may mean the district will need to go back to patrons and ask for voter support again."

Article Topic Follows: Idaho Falls

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