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What the watchdogs sniffed out this week

What the watchdogs sniffed out this week

Lindsay Atkinson
September 20, 2018
September 20, 2018

Every week, as I read through the news, attend county and city meetings, and hear comments from residents, I find many actions that compliment liberty and others that do not. Below are select recent local government actions of interest from across the state. There has been a lot of action in municipalities that begin with the letter “C” lately, so this past week has felt a little like Sesame Street to me.

  • BOISE. Mayor David Bieter gave his State of the City address where he announced, among other policy issues, the city’s Grow Our Housing Initiative. The goal of this initiative is to encourage city policies that Bieter believes will support the development of housing. But, the same speech encouraged an end to the rezones and annexations that allow future housing development in the foothills. So Bieter’s address highlighted ironically mixed solutions to the housing crisis.
  • CHALLIS. City council adopted an FY19 budget of $1.27 million, with no property tax increase. Mayor Michael Barrett said there have been no property tax increases the past couple years due to the number of home foreclosures and the downturn in the real-estate market in Challis. He indicates that property taxes should not be raised while residents are facing this downturn and the city is “going to live with the money [it’s] got.
  • COEUR D’ALENE. Results are in from a study to determine the feasibility of constructing a 700-800 seat, city-owned-and-operated performing arts center. The city spent $63,000 on this study which found that “the proposed performance center
    would require an operating subsidy of approximately $420,000.” Such a loss would have to be remedied by endowments or taxpayer dollars. The matter still has to be heard by council before any further action can be taken. Hopefully, councilors will see that planning for an annual loss is fiscally irresponsible.
  • CUSTER COUNTY. Commissioners voted to put a $4.5 million bond measure on the November ballot. The bond monies would be used to remodel the county courthouse and build a new jail. With interest, the bond would cost taxpayers more than $6.5 million. This bond has come before county voters twice before, and failed both times. Notably, Custer County currently has no bond debt.
  • ADA COUNTY HIGHWAY DISTRICT. During the past few weeks, the Idaho attorney general’s office and ACHD Commissioner Sara Baker have exchanged letters that express disagreement about how to handle Commissioner Jim Hansen’s violation of Idaho’s open meeting law. The attorney general’s office indicated that the violation could be “cured” by the other ACHD commissioners in a meeting. But Commissioners Baker and Rebecca Arnold voted to send a letter to the attorney general that expressed their belief that the violation was “incurable,” and further punishment was needed. The attorney general’s office responded this week, stating that “Idaho Code 74-208(7) does not differentiate between curable and incurable violations of the law.” In regard to the attorney general’s assertion that no further punishment can be pursued, Baker lamented: “The Attorney General has basically shown the open meeting law to be irrelevant in the state of Idaho.”
  • CAPITAL CITY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION. Boise’s urban renewal agency has proposed the creation of a new industrial district, to be called the Gateway East District. Residents whose homes would fall in the proposed district’s boundaries are worried that the industrial district would decrease their quality of housing. This proposal of an industrial-focused district comes during a housing crisis in Boise.
  • NAMPA DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION. This past week, the city of Nampa’s urban renewal agency sold a half-block of downtown property to Mussell Construction, at a $1.26 million loss. The property sold for $640,000, with the condition that the buyer further develop the property. The city of Nampa originally bought this half-block in 2008 for $1.9 million, and transferred it to the Nampa Development Corporation in 2009.

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

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