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What the watchdogs sniffed out this week

What the watchdogs sniffed out this week

Lindsay Atkinson
October 11, 2018
October 11, 2018

Every week, as I read through the news, attend county and city meetings, and hear comments from residents, I learn more about the complicated pool of local government authority.

This week I was especially focused on the use of taxpayer monies by three Idaho cities.

Below are recent noteworthy actions by local governments across the state.

AMMON. The Ammon City Council created an official city charitable contribution policy. The policy allows the city to donate up to a total of $20,000 to eight local nonprofit organizations each year, with the eligibility requirement being that the organizations provide charitable services to city residents and have offices somewhere in Bonneville County. The amount the city donates to each charity will range from $1,000 to $8,000, to be distributed on a “first-come first-serve basis”.

BOISE. On October 3, Don Day of BoiseDev reported that the city of Boise has been covering first-class flights and expensive hotel accomodations for employees of Safdie Architects, as well as its founding namesake Moshe Safdie. Safdie Architects is the Boston-based firm hired by the city to design the new Boise library. As part of the design process, the firm’s associates flew out several times to survey the location for the library and talk with city officials. For trips made January through June 2018, the cost totaled to $22,000 for airfare, accommodation at the Inn at 500, the most expensive hotel in Boise, and food. The cumulative cost to Boise taxpayers is actually higher than $22,000, because the amount does not include the cost of trips made after June, including Moshe Safdie’s September visit, during which he gave a presentation about his design.

MERIDIAN. The city of Meridian transferred its old city hall property to the Meridian Development Corporation, its urban renewal agency. The transfer of the property to the urban renewal agency will allow for the sale of the property to Novembrewhiskey for $565,000. Back in August, the city council considered two proposals for the sale of Meridian’s old city hall, one from Novembrewhiskey, the other from deChase Miksis. Novembrewhiskey’s proposal involved the sale of the land to a developer, who would privately fund the subsequent construction on the land. The proposal from deChase Miksis requested the land for free and the creation of a new urban renewal district to fund part of its proposed construction, a project which would have cost Meridian taxpayers millions. Thankfully, the city made the fiscally responsible decision and voted in favor of the Novembrewhiskey proposal, which did not ask for taxpayer support.

What is your local government doing that should be highlighted? Please comment below and let us know. Thank you!

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