Earlier this month, members of the Idaho Legislature were sworn in for their upcoming service. In January, they will also be joined by returning and newly elected officials taking the oath of office, ranging from statewide Constitutional Officers to local leadership at the County level. It is my hope that these newly elected and returning officials will work together to address challenges we face in Meridian and beyond.
Property taxes have been an ongoing conversation for the last several years. We have seen constant shifting of tax burdens due to how property taxes are calculated under State code. Another area of concern for property taxes is the amount of our tax bills in Meridian that are directly related to education, specifically bonds for new school facilities. While investments have been made, I encourage Governor Little to find solutions that will reduce the need for school districts to use bond and levy funds. Funding education is a Constitutional responsibility of the State and is not limited to teachers – it needs to include buildings too. Addressing this issue is one of the simplest ways to address property tax challenges for Idaho.
Meridian residents continue to ask for transportation improvements that increase capacity and safety. Expanding roads and improving intersections are local priorities that will help our residents and businesses move in and about Meridian. These improvements will also benefit public safety response as our police and firefighters cannot make traffic disappear when responding to a call. I encourage our partners at the Ada County Highway District to increase funding for road expansion and intersection projects that will alleviate bottlenecks and safety concerns.
Our partners at the County will be getting a new County Commissioner and three new County officials. I will continue to encourage them to advance priorities that will benefit Meridian residents. County Commissioners have been working with the Sheriff and Coroner to ensure that they are able to provide the public safety services needed for all county residents. A new Coroner’s Office is under construction and a plan for the Ada County Jail needs to be advanced. We are all County residents, and these are critical and necessary services for Meridian and Ada County.
Nowhere is change in the coming year greater than in the State Legislature. We have new representation for Meridian through the redistricting process, as well as the November elections. Our legislators – new and returning – need to be advocates for road funding, provide tools for responsible growth that have value, and work to find ways to fund our communities’ educational goals.
While we may not always agree, we also need to respect each other so that we can discuss our goals and differences while modeling civility and community behavior that values each other for our future generations. There is a time and place to discuss policy differences, and it is not in front of people’s homes as has been experienced by members of the Meridian Police Department and others for performing their duties. The legislature needs to act to protect residential neighborhoods, as they should not be areas for public protest. People need to feel safe and free from harassment in their homes.
Deciding to run for office is never easy, and we are fortunate to have several strong leaders working for the needs of the community at all levels of government. As we close out 2022, I am excited for the New Year and look forward to working with the newly elected officials to achieve outcomes that will benefit Idaho, the Treasure Valley and the City Meridian for years to come!