Reading the recent interviews of the two candidates for La Grande mayor left me feeling incredulous and frustrated. The most important issue facing the residents of La Grande and Union County are our skyrocketing and obscene property taxes. Neither candidate said finding a way to lower property taxes was even a priority, never mind making it their No. 1 priority. My wife and I live in the urban growth boundary, and this reminds us why we are so glad that we aren’t in the city limits. This just reinforces most of our urban growth boundary neighbors and ourselves’ resolve to never annex into the city.
City councilors should be working with county commissioners to find ways for property tax relief as their highest priority. Another recent article in the Observer says the school district wants to refinance the school bond we are all paying for, at a lower interest rate, and oh, by the way, grab another $8 million out of it while they are at it. Why isn’t it a priority for the city mayor candidates to work with the school district to just refinance, period, and save the taxpayers all the money they can, and just learn to live within their budget? I’m talking about that bond to tear down an entire school because the roof needed repaired. When our house needed a new roof, we didn’t tear down the entire house and ask the taxpayers to buy us an entire new house. We replaced the roof instead with our own money. The school board and it’s former superintendent decided that on top of the $1,300 a year that we were already paying for schools as part of our annual property taxes, they needed to reach into my back pocket and help themselves to an additional $600 a year. Oh, and nowhere was it acknowledged that it would be for the next 26 years.
The Observer has refused to cover the story about the November ballot measure to move the Idaho border to include Union County. Most of the people we know in Union County support this happening. Even my barbershop said 90% of their customers support it. If and when it does pass, a whole lot of government officials in La Grande are going to have to learn to live within a financial means that doesn’t put an unfair tax burden on property owners here. Things like guaranteed 5% annual raises for staff, when everyone in the private sector is lucky to get a 2% COLA and merit increase combined, won’t be happening anymore. My calculations are Idaho property taxes are roughly 1/4 to 1/2 of what we pay here in Oregon, and studies show Idahoans total tax burden average $1800 a year less than Oregonians.
With the Greater Idaho ballot measure, and contrary to what the Observer has told you, moving a border between two states does not require congressional approval. Article IV, Section 3, Clause 1, regulates adding new states to the Union and the creation of new states from parts of other states. Nothing in the clause requires congressional approval for two states to modify the border between themselves. The entire premise behind the project is to avoid having to get congressional approval. While the measure has majority support of the people in Union County I’ve talked to, it won’t happen unless all our friends and neighbors make a concerted effort to fill in your ballots and vote. Make sure you take your completed ballet directly to the collection box at the county clerk’s office, and bypass the postal service completely. The ballet measure number is 31-101. Make sure you find it on your ballot, and mark it.
And in closing, lest we forget, the lone remaining candidate on the ballot for county sheriff, as well as the announced write-in candidate, both previously said they intend to increase funding for the department. Would love to see an explanation from them on how they intend to accomplish that without nickel and dime-ing us to death by an increased emphasis on writing traffic citations?
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David Thiesfeld, along with his wife Jamie, have lived in the La Grande urban growth boundary since 2008, and he is a constitutional conservative.