Rewind to fall, 2005. Candidate Jared Fuhriman is running for mayor of the City of Idaho Falls.
“Everywhere I meet people, they tell me Idaho Falls property taxes are too high,” said Mr. Fuhriman.
Fast forward to December 2007. Now-Mayor Fuhriman, in a joint press conference with Robb Chiles, president of the Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce, announces it’s time to consider building an events center in the city.
The Idaho Falls newspaper correctly recaps the fate of previous attempts to build large community projects. In 1999, Bonneville County residents voted down a 5% motel tax to build an events center.
In 2003, a grandiose new city recreation center was proposed and heavily lobbied for by then-Mayor Linda Milam and buddy, City Councilwoman Ida Hardcastle. The new center would have been built with property taxes, but garnered only 20% of the vote.
But now it’s December, 2007, and it should come as no surprise that Fuhriman, a sidekick of Hardcastle, is resurrecting the events center plan.
He admits it’s going to be an uphill battle: before Economic Research Associates (ERA) will even conduct a feasibility study, $50,000 must be raised to hire them.
(Might Fuhriman even suggest to the city council that taxpayer money be used for the study? Stay tuned.)
Among issues ERA will consider is how to fund such a center.
Since a motel tax and increased property tax have already been nixed by voters in recent years, appeals will probably be made to the Idaho Legislature to allow local options sales tax. This is an idea that fails year after year in legislative votes.
No matter how you look at it, taxpayers come out the losers – unless you can somehow monetize that wonderful but nebulous “feeling of pride in our community” that will no doubt be touted at the biggest reason for citizen support.
Once again, Mayor Fuhriman demonstrates his lack of principle. Though he cozied up to the local Republican Party just before elections to increase his chances of becoming mayor, he repeatedly abandons party planks, including a belief in reducing taxes and shrinking government.
Don’t get me wrong – as any citizen of Idaho Falls can tell you, Jared Fuhriman is a nice guy. He’ll smile at you and shake your hand, and encourage you to support the Boy Scouts.
But that doesn’t qualify him to serve as mayor.
Fuhriman doesn’t have a clue.
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