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Tibbs Vows to Freeze Fees

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Now that the official campaign season has begun, Boise mayor candidate Jim Tibbs has unveiled his plan for the city budget.

Last week, Tibbs announced that, if elected mayor, he would freeze all city fees and taxes for one year, during which time he would conduct an audit to look at the validity of these city revenue sources.

Going against what he called the "Dave Bieter policy of special project spending," Tibbs said he would refuse to spend any budget surplus, instead reducing fees to eliminate the surplus altogether.

Tibbs also alluded to the possibility that he would support the city taking less than the 3 percent annual property-tax increase allowed by state law to fund municipalities.

He criticized the current city practice of using surplus revenue to fund special one-time-only projects, including two branch libraries and the proposed whitewater park on the Boise River, which the City Council voted to support this year with surplus funds. Tibbs voted in favor of the budget, but his spokesman, Matt Ellsworth, said it was because Tibbs didn't want to hamstring the city while fighting the point.

Tibbs also said he would ask the state Legislature to consider ending the practice of imposing county taxes on areas that have been annexed to the city.

He added that he is opposed to annexation without voter approval.

Bieter took exception to Tibbs' assault on his spending record, quickly pointing out that the city actually had a budget deficit when he took office.

"My fiscal record is solid," Bieter said in a written statement. "We've taken a multi-million-dollar deficit and turned it into a budget surplus. That's allowed us to move ahead with important projects such as neighborhood libraries, adding more police, and improving our park system."

Bieter also supported the current fee system. "The fees this city charges are, in a large part, one of the ways that we make growth pay its fair share," he said.

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