City street service to continue

By Cameron Rasmusson
Reader Staff

Despite an ongoing legal dispute between the city of Sandpoint and the Independent Highway District, street services should continue without interruption.

Last week, the Idaho Supreme Court ruled that a joint powers agreement between the two entities specifying the use of tax revenue for road maintenance violated state law. With the agreement thrown into a flux, city and district officials said maintenance would continue without issue.

The joint powers agreement at the heart of the issue was struck in 2003 and dictated that IHD would pay the city all highway taxes collected within the city to use in road maintenance. However, in 2013, IHD commissioners announced they planned to withhold tax revenue, prompting the city to sue for breach of contract. The next year, a district court judge ruled in the city’s favor, but the Idaho Supreme Court has now disagreed, saying the agreement broke Idaho law.

“[Government entities] are authorized to enter into a joint powers agreement to share the duties and to share the cost of carrying out those duties,” the ruling states. “However, what they cannot do is agree that the highway district will completely turn over its statutory duty to a city, along with its share of ad valorem property tax revenues.”

With the Idaho Supreme Court overturning the ruling, the lawsuit between the city and IHD goes back to district court.

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