by Andrew Crisp
Today, Boise City Council candidate David Litster announced that he intends to launch a petition drive to force a popular vote on the proposed downtown streetcar.
In a press release, Litster stated “I am opposed to the Mayor’s proposed $60-million trolley and the $20-million property tax increase that comes with it.”
Litster feels that “the taxpayers should have the final say on a trolley that will cost $2 million per city block and $2 million per year to operate.” He plans to file the initiative petition by the end of next week.
The City of Boise has not settled on a funding mechanism for the construction of streetcar line, though it has applied for a $40-million federal grant. Estimates for the annual operating cost have been less than $2 million.
The Boise City clerk advised Litster that 6,500 signatures from registered Boise voters would be needed. If he can collect the signatures, the proposed ordinance to require voter approval would be put before the City Council for consideration.
“With enough citizen support, I am confident the required number of signatures could be collected before the Nov. 3 election,” Litster stated.
TJ Thomson, Litster’s opponent, argues that the trolley is still just a concept, and that a lot of work needs to be done before the trolley is ready for a decision.
“This race needs to be about substance and facts, not grand standing,” Thomson stated. "There will be ample opportunity for public input on the Boise Streetcar in the months ahead — as there should be."
Thomson said that Litster is opting to “begin the discussion by throwing the first hand grenade.”
Thomson’s stated that Litster, “who has claimed to be a fiscal hawk, is now proposing spending thousands of tax payer dollars on a special election on a project of which we have not yet received all the facts.”