The Valley County Road Department is losing most of its federal funding, accounting for approximately 50 percent of the total annual budget.
The only remaining primary source of revenue for the department is Highway User Funds comprised of the fuel tax, Valley County vehicle registrations and a portion of speeding tickets issued in the county. Without a new source of funding to replace federal dollars, the Valley County Road Department budget will decrease by up to 50 percent, meaning a significant decrease in services.
To replace lost federal funding,
Valley County is proposing a 0.084 percent property tax increase.
(For every $100,000 in assessed property value, taxpayers would pay an additional $84 per year.)
This measure will be on the ballot Tuesday, November 5, 2019 for a public vote.
Learn More About the Proposed Levy
Explore the Valley County Road Infrastructure
Use this interactive map to view roads, bridges and culverts serviced by the Valley County Road Department, maintenance needs and average costs associated with maintaining these assets.
(Click the image above to open our interactive map)
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do we need this levy?
The Valley County Road Dept. is losing most of its federal funding, accounting for approximately 50 percent of the total annual budget.
Historically, Valley County received an average of $3 million per year from timber and mineral harvest and grazing that took place on federally administered public lands. The “timber receipts” program was dissolved in 2000 and replaced with the USDA’s Secure Rural Schools Act, which continued similar payments. Seventy percent of funds received go to the Valley County Road Dept. and the balance (30 percent) goes to schools.
These payments have dramatically decreased and the program is sunsetting. In FY2017, Valley County Road Dept. received $74,725.48. No payment has been received for FY2018.
The main source of revenue for the Valley County Road Dept. is highway user funds, which include the fuel tax, vehicle registrations and $10 from each speeding ticket issued in the county. This revenue averages $2.2 million per year (a three-year average).
How much will the levy add to my tax bill?
The proposed levy is a 0.084 percent property tax increase, which translates to $84 for every $100,000 of assessed property value.
That means that a homeowner with an assessed value of $300,000 will pay $252 in additional property taxes per year to help fund the Road Department and maintain the services it provides.
Without the levy, annual costs to homeowners may actually rise as the services provided by the Road Department decrease. Here is an example: If a subdivision has to take on snowplowing because the county has to cut services, $250 extra per year is relatively inexpensive. Taking this on independently, the homeowners would likely be looking at double, triple, or maybe even four or five times that amount depending on the amount of roadway needing to be cleared.
What if I am on a fixed income and can't afford additional taxes?
Seniors, super seniors, and others living on a fixed income who can’t afford this modest property tax increase can apply for a circuit-breaker exemption that reduces property taxes for qualified applicants. The amount of reduction is based on the total household income for the previous calendar year. If you qualify, the property taxes on your primary home and up to one acre of land may be reduced by as much as $1,320. CLICK HERE for more information on this program.
Why have we waited until now to find a new funding solution?
Valley County has watched federal funding fluctuate in recent years, but has held off on proposing a property tax increase until it was absolutely necessary. The County works to be as fiscally responsible as possible and endeavored to exhaust all other options and sought solutions on the federal level with our congressional delegation before moving forward with a levy.
With SRS funding coming to an end, we are now asking the community to help fund the Road Department and the services they provide residents and visitors alike.
What taxes currently fund the Road Department?
Property taxes have NEVER been used to fund the Valley County Road Department.
The main source of revenue for the Valley County Road Department is highway user funds, which include fuel taxes, vehicle registrations and a portion of each speeding ticket issued in the county. This revenue averages $2.2 million per year (a three-year average).
How is the Valley County Road Department funded?
The Valley County Road Department is currently funded by four primary sources:
- Federal Funding: The USDA’s Secure Rural Schools Act replaced the Timber Receipts program in 2000. This program is sunsetting, dropping from an annual average of $3 million to $74,725 in 2017. The program has not been reauthorized for 2020.
- Highway User Funds: Revenue from fuel taxes, vehicle registrations and a portion of speeding tickets issued
in Valley County.
- Investments and Other Income: Includes investment income and funds paid for maintaining backcountry roads accessing
- Charges for Services: Mechanical work and fuel provided to Valley County motorpool vehicles and approach
Federal funding is NOT being renewed and this is the piece of the budget the County is working to replace.
Wasn't this levy already on the ballot two years ago?
The measure was, in fact, on the ballot two years ago and passed by a 69 percent vote. However, the Idaho State Tax Commission ruled that the wording was such that the approved levy would be temporary.
Valley County made the decision to not raise property taxes temporarily and instead, used the results as an advisory vote, a non-binding vote used to help direct future decisions. An approved levy on the November 5, 2019, ballot would result in a permanent property tax increase.
How will this money be used?
Passing the levy would increase our budget to around $6 million annually, up from an average of $4 million annually.
Valley County would use $4 million to maintain the services currently provided by the Road Department, $1 million to grow services and staff and the fleet of equipment, and the remaining $1 million for grant matches to get larger projects completed much sooner and fund special projects like gravel crushing and road improvements the county can undertake without grant funding.
What services does the Valley County Road Department provide?
The Valley County Road Department services a broad geographic area, maintaining our road infrastructure.
If the levy does not pass, how will services be impacted?
If the levy does not pass, the Valley County Road Department budget will be primarily funded by Highway User Funds, an average of $2.2 million per year. This would decrease the overall annual budget by approximately 50 percent. Services provided by the Road Department would be cut in conjunction to stay within the reduced budget.
Can grant funding be used to cover the budget deficit? What about PILT?
No. Grant funding for major projects is not guaranteed and requires a cash match, something that would need to be provided out of the annual Road Department budget. An example of this is the current Warren Wagon Road project. While the bulk of the project is being funded by a grant, Valley County had to contribute $1 million in matched cash to receive that grant.
The PILT (Payment In Lieu of Taxes) program funds — which currently amount to a little more than $1 million per year — are not guaranteed funds. In fact, PILT funds vary from year to year and they keep decreasing. Because of that, the county has traditionally applied PILT funds to special projects and large, one-time expenses like new equipment purchases.
Will this levy get the Road Department operating at an ideal budget?
No, but it will add a much-needed injection of funding to replace lost federal dollars. The levy will get the Road Department to an annual operating budget of $6 million, which is $2 million more that the current average. With that funding, $4 million will be used to continue current services, $1 million will be used to grow services, staff and equipment, and $1 million will be used to fund grant matches for larger projects, as well as fund special projects like gravel crushing and smaller road improvements that can be completed without grant funding.
A road network the size of Valley County should, ideally, be operating on a budget of $18 million annually.
Why does Valley County maintain backcountry roads?
The Valley County Road Department maintains roads to provide access to public lands, such as Lick Creek Road, High Valley Road, and the roads into Deadwood, Yellow Pine and Gold Fork Hot Springs through the “FERTA” program. For this service, the Department is paid per mile by the Forest Service. This is not a large source of revenue for the Road Department and the County has never spent more than it has earned in a given year. The primary goal with this program is to maintain key access points to public lands that would otherwise go without maintenance and deteriorate.
How can we ensure tourists are paying their fair share?
Tourists ARE helping to pay for the Road Department via user fees and fuel taxes. In addition, second homeowners carry 66 percent of the tax burden in the county, but only primary residents may vote on this local issue. That means that second homeowners, including those who offer their homes as vacation rentals, will be providing $2 out of every $3 levied.
Ultimately, we are all working together to help fund the Road Department.
What is the official wording of the levy as it will appear on the ballot?
Referring to Idaho Code Title 40, Chapter 801(b): County Commissioners are empowered to implement:
“A special levy of eighty-four thousandth per cent (0.084%) of market value for assessment purposes to be used for any one (1) or all of the following purposes:
- Bridge maintenance and construction;
- Matching state and federal highway funds;
- Secondary highway construction;
- Secondary highway maintenance and improvements;
- Maintenance during an emergency;
No part of this levy shall be apportioned to any incorporated city.”
Should Valley County Commissioners use this levy to help fund a portion of county road maintenance and improvements? The formula to determine the actual amount levied is 0.084% multiplied by the current market value for assessment purposes of a property. If approved at the current 2019 Market Value, this would provide $3,842,059 in funding.
Valley County is requesting to override the property tax budget limit per Idaho Code Section 63-802(1)(h) by raising its property tax budget in an amount not to exceed the difference between .00084 multiplied by the market value of property for assessment purposes in 2019 and the 2019 maximum budget permitted under Idaho Code Section 63-802. This equates to no more of an increase to the current base than $3,842,059. The current base plus the $3,842,059 may be used as a new base for future increases. If the Valley County Board of County Commissioners takes the full amount, a typical taxpayer with $100,000 taxable property value will see an increase to the property tax due of $84.00. The earliest the additional tax would be required to be paid would be December 2020.
Shall the Valley County Board of Commissioners be authorized and empowered to increase its budget for a permanent override tax levy at a rate of 0.084% multiplied by the current market value for assessment purposes of property in 2019 pursuant to Idaho Code 63-802 (h) for the purpose of defraying road department personnel costs, conducting road maintenance, and for new road construction on all taxable property within the district beginning with the fiscal year commencing on October 1, 2021.