MOSCOW – Nixing property taxes and getting rid of restrictions on local economic development were the main topics of discussion at a business breakfast hosted by the Latah County Republicans in Moscow Tuesday.
The aim of the breakfast event was to gather state, legislative and county Republican candidates, local business owners and local leaders for a discussion “concerning North Central Idaho economic development, business climate and property taxes,” according to an invite from Latah County Republicans.
The majority of the hour of conversation was directed toward property taxes, with suggestions on how to minimize or even eliminate them. Republican Latah County Commissioner candidate Carl Berglund said property and income taxes were “insane” and suggested getting rid of them altogether.
Berglund was not alone in his sentiments; after an applause from the crowd several other candidates and representatives announced their disdain for property taxes as well, including Sen. Dan Foreman and Rep. Lori McCann
“Taxation shouldn’t be based on wealth, it should be based on citizenship,” said Foreman. “We need to shrink the size and cost of the government.”
Joel Cohen, owner of Tapped in Moscow, said the only way to cut down the cost of government was to abolish the “environmental component,” citing the City of Moscow’s Environmental Services department, and for taxpayers to stop paying for education in schools their children aren’t attending.
McCann, the only woman to address the crowd during the breakfast, said she has been searching for ways that the state government can take on the burden of paying for public education while eliminating school levies in order to take the burden of paying for education off local taxpayers.
Rep. Brandon Mitchell said one of his top priorities was to make sure the money going toward Idaho education was actually benefitting the students while cutting down costs wherever possible in the process.
When the discussion shifted to economic development, a lack of affordable housing for workers and the expansion of Latah County’s limited industrial district were the first things mentioned.
“My encouragement when it comes to economic development is ‘Get out of the way,'” said Andrew Crapuchettes, founder of RedBalloon and parish elder at Christ Church.
Crapuchettes added that the responsibility of providing amenities needed to support a workforce, like affordable housing and well-paying jobs, should fall onto the local business owners and the government should not be involved.
Other candidates in attendance included candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction Debbie Critchfield, candidate for Secretary of State Phil McGrane, Treasurer Julie Ellsworth, State Controller Brandon Woolf, candidate for Latah County Commissioner Brian Loomis, candidate for Latah County Clerk Julie Fry, candidate for Latah County Treasurer Peggy Gottschalk and Latah County Chief Deputy Assessor Dave Sutherland.
The event was funded by Clearwater Paper, Bennett Lumber Products, Palouse Properties as well as both the Moscow and Lewiston Jiffy Lube.