With local governments across the state struggling with budget woes, Rep. Larry Springer, D-Kirkland, is pushing a new set of bipartisan bills designed to streamline local government operations.
“These efficiencies will not solve every local budget concern, but we owe it to our citizens to make sure our government is as organized and responsive to its citizens as possible,” said Springer.
HB 1575 ends a requirement among county assessors to appraise public property that is tax-exempt. The primary concern in assessing the value of a property is determining how much the owner should pay in property taxes – meaning the assessment of tax-exempt property is largely inconsequential. The bill frees up county assessors’ resources to focus on the more crucial aspects of their office.
HB 1576 removes an unintended technology ban in county auditors’ offices by allowing them to provide documents online. Auditors, as well as citizens, would still have the option of receiving notifications and assessments through traditional mail. The legislation just gives them the freedom to save money on printing and paper.
Finally, HB 1268 would help city and county governments purchase goods locally by loosening restrictions on contract bidding. Currently, local governments must purchase goods from the bidder who offers the cheapest contract, which is often determined by the local tax rates of the business.
Representative Springer’s bill would allow bids to be considered before tax. Doing so would put businesses around the state on more equal footing and offer local governments more options for purchasing from businesses in their area.
“As a former local government official, I know how many quirks there are in the law and how difficult that can make things,” stated Springer. “These bills make it easier for city and county governments to do their number one job – serving their citizens.”
All three bills have been referred to the House Local Government Committee.