Elected officials working
together to positively
manage community
growth.

Meeting Minutes
January 24, 2011

Attendees

  • John Bechtel
  • Vern Bisterfeldt
  • Tom Dale
  • Tammy de Weerd
  • John Evans
  • David Ferdinand
  • Garret Nancolas

Absent

  • Dave Bieter
  • Scott Dowdy
  • Brad Holton
  • George Hyer
  • Nate Mitchell
  • Craig Telford
  • Vicki Thurber

Staff and Guests

  • Dan Chadwick
  • Rafael Gonzalez
  • Ken Harward
  • Christian Nafzger
  • Pete Wagner
  • Ann Wick
  • Bill Larsen

Tom Dale opened the meeting and welcomed everyone to Star. He indicated that Nate Mitchell had a meeting conflict and that he was standing in for the day. There was an important vote going on with the Ada County Air Quality Council, which Nate is a member.

Meet and Greet with Ann Wick

Tom introduced Ann Wick. She is the newly hired SAUSA Project employee.

Ann stated that she was thrilled to be in her new position. She is from the Coeur d’Alene area and served as a Prosecutor for Kootenai County. When she was there she felt she had built a good working relationship with law enforcement. She has a broad range of prosecutorial experience including cases involving violent crime, fraud, domestic violence, kidnapping and a whole host of crimes. She feels her experience has set her up very well to take on the work of the SAUSA.

Rafael said that hats off should go to the Treasure Valley Partnership for creating this program and figuring out the pieces to enable the SAUSA Project to start and endure. The Project has been very successful with Christian and Justin at the helm and they expect the same success out of Ann. Christian will be serving as Ann’s mentor. He stated that Aaron Lucoff, their Criminal Chief will serve as supervisor.

David stated that the project has been real successful and we have rounded up all the bad guys. He asked if there was any one else to get and if Ann has a list of potential cases. Christian said they had taken Ann out to the Metro Task Force the previous week. It is real pleasing to him to see how they have progressed, particularly under Doug Hart of the FBI’s leadership. It is amazing the kind of stuff they have put together. Ann is walking into a good situation as there is good information and great cooperation occurring.

Christian continued that everyone has been hearing of the big case that Justin mentioned is coming down the pike. This case is getting closer and that Justin, Ann and himself are all working on this particular case together. He does expect that in approximately six weeks, this case will become public.

David asked if there was anything the Partnership needed to change in order to better help Ann. Tammy emphasized that it was important to talk to all our legislators about funding. She has been chatting with her legislators about protecting this funding source, and she asked if Bill could route around some talking points on the SAUSA Project to Partnership members.

On that note, Tom stated that Bill and he had met with the Idaho Criminal Justice Commission recently. They are very supportive of this program. We made it very clear that long-term, we believe this program needs to be funded entirely by the State as it is so beneficial financially to the entire State. Right now, the funding is falling on the backs of the members of the Partnership. Tom stated that the Commission appears to be very open to that.

Bill asked a clarification question. He asked what impact, if any, the SAUSA Project has had on freeing up staff time to increase gang and gun prosecutions across the State.

Rafael stated that this has indeed freed up their staff to increase these prosecutions. For example, as a result, Christian in his position has been able to focus more energy’s on gang and gun prosecutions in the Twin Falls area. This has occurred because the Special Assistant has taken over the load of the Treasure Valley thus increasing the capabilities of their office to focus in different areas of the State.

Christian has been able to get out and build a relationship with local law enforcement officials in the Twin Falls area. He has been able to educate and inform these officials about their gang issues.

Christian emphasized that he was really surprised to the extent of how the Twin Falls area gang issues are tied into our issues in the Treasure Valley. In addition, the gangs in Ontario and Nyssa, Oregon as well as those in the Magic Valley are all interactive. Guns and drugs are moving back and forth among all the gangs in our geographical area.

Vern stated that he had been briefed on the SAUSA Project this morning. The thing he found to be most interesting was that we would put gang members out here on the desert, but they were still sending out instructions throughout the valley. This program does not allow these activities and has been very prohibitive of the gangs.

Rafael asked if there was a group like the Partnership in the Ontario area. Garret indicated that this sort of thing is quite uncommon. Rafael felt it would be real effective if we could get some collaboration from officials in that area. Several members stated it would be nice to invite Mayors and Commissioners from SE Oregon as there are several issues that involve the whole valley and the border should not inhibit us from attempting to work with them.

Dan Chadwick stated that he is a member of the Idaho Criminal Justice Commission but missed the last meeting. They have a gang subcommittee which Jim Tibbs is the Chair. This subcommittee has been working on beefing up the Idaho Legislation to enhance the gang related sections of Idaho Code.

Tammy added that she understood that Jim Tibbs has been working to establish contacts and cooperation in the SE Oregon area. Maybe an invitation to him to come to one of our meetings might be a good activity.

John Evans stated that we all know we have gang activity in Idaho that involve Oregon residents and vise-versa.

Rafael stated that it really comes down to jurisdictional issues. We may have someone selling drugs in Ontario that the fall out affects us. We need to have the ability of our agencies to work together regardless of jurisdictional lines. One of his goals was to have some sort of mechanism where we could reach out, work with the Oregon US Atty. Office and in the ideal world, have a SAUSA in SE Oregon that could work in concert with ours.

Rafael stated he would be working with Bill to create a way to somehow open the communication via the partnership to local officials in SW Oregon as well as the Oregon US Attorney. He felt that this would be a good forum to open that door and see if we can have an effect in the Treasure Valley Region instead of just within the Idaho border.

Welcoming Vern Bisterfeldt

Tom apologized as he was remiss in introducing Vern Bisterfeldt, our new Ada County representative. Garret added that Vern was a member of the original group that started the Partnership.

Vern stated that it has been a real task to try to get everyone to work together, and that was one of the early goals of the Partnership. He stated that they had the formation meeting up at Bogus Basin. They brought in some folks from back east to teach the original Partnership and the teachers were literally amazed. They said that back home, the Commissioners and City officials won’t even talk to each other, and here are the members of the Partnership working together. The speakers at that meetings stated that this sort of partnership is unheard of.

Legislative Issues

Tom introduced Dan Chadwick with the Idaho Association of Counties and Ken Harward with the Association of Idaho Cities.

Dan said he felt like had just got taken to the woodshed. He had just spent the last hour with Bedke, Moyle and Roberts. All joking aside, Dan said that it was rather obvious; this legislative session will all be about money. We as Cities and Counties have to be cautious as revenue sharing and liquor funds will be a bit of a target for the legislature to solve their budgetary issues.

Dan indicated they have already been contacted by the Governor’s Office on the issue of liquor and there was $8 million that came out as available for fifth quarter payment. The Governor was going to request these funds go to the State instead of local government. Tammy asked that if they were going to take the funding, are they also going to take enforcement. Dan said that they might as well take Community College Tuition too, as that is these funds are used for Counties where there is not a community college.

Dan said he is really afraid that more than just this program will end up coming on the table.

Ken said that Dan is right. If we go back five or six years ago, we had a big fight over this issue. At that time, the legislature wanted to use this $8 million to take care of issues on the Eastern Snake Plane Aquifer. At that time, we lost ground on the percentage of liquor funds going to Cities and Counties to its current level of 50-50.

Vern added that they are starting to loose money in Ada County on involuntary mental holds. For Ada County, it is $1,960 per night. And other counties are running around $700 per night. David agreed the figures were correct. In total, the Canyon County budget for mental holds is $1.5 million. Vern stated that Ada Counties has jumped to over $2 million.

Dan stated that they will be going to the legislature to fix this issue. Under the current system, contract rates are based on what is “usual and customary” instead of the much lower Medicaid rate. They are going to push to require stand-alone mental health facilities to accept something lower than “usual and customary”.

Dan added that we all need to be watchful. Transmission line siting is a big deal for Cities and Counties. For Cities, of course it deals with your comp plan and orderly development issues within Cities. For Counties, they are dealing with the Gateway Transmission Line Project out of Wyoming and Utah. This involves national energy corridor issues. The issue we have to contend with is whether we are going to lose our authority as Cities and Counties under the Land Use Planning Act in terms of what we require in the terms of development. What ever we do, put the transmissions over-head, under ground, and location….who gets the ultimate authority to make that decision?

There is a law-suit where the Public Utilities Commission, through rule, said that it could set standards for rights of way. ACHD and IAC are participants in this lawsuit. This issue of the role of the public utilities commission will come into issue as well.

John Bechtel said that a year ago he was on a Commission with Idaho Power on the Boardman Hemingway portion of their Transmission Line. At first, this line was going to go through prime farm ground through Oregon and Idaho. They got this moved over to federal lands down into Owyhee. Ken said that he sees several issues. He is concerned about comments coming out of the legislature, particularly on the House side. The general comment is that Cities and Counties have not felt the pain. Dan added that we haven’t hurt enough yet.

Ken said they are even discussing ways they can squeeze down the 3% cap. Also, he stated there is going to be a Revenue Bond Act Amendment. If you look at the language of Article 8, Section 3 it refers to multi year obligations, not just debt. Everyday common things we do to function, for example a multi-year software agreement would be subject to holding a vote.

If you remember last year, we dealt with four different constitutional amendments. The we dealt with airports, city/county public utilities and one that dealt with the main body of Article 8, Section 3.

Garret said he is preaching to the choir, you hear the cry from the public to run government like a business. And yet, it is impossible to do so because of the kinds of conditions that are put on us.

Vern said, to be technical, everything including even garbage contracts we would have to limit to one year contracts. Ken said the good side of it is there may not be anybody out there to mount a challenge.

Garret said if you do a contract for say garbage. You are going to have to do a long term contract to get it to pencil out for the life of the contract. If we have to go to one year contract, then all these contracts will be far more expensive than under the current way of doing business that is ordinary and customary.

Dan stated that there is an Amendment floating around having to deal with the Land Use Planning Act. This would give more protection to Ag interests in the Comprehensive Planning process. This will affect Cities and we need to be watchful for it.

Tom said that the President of the Idaho Freedom Foundation put out a pork report recently. In this report, he identified 10 urban renewal districts that he considered abusive. And of course, this report includes the Cities of Nampa, Caldwell, Twin Falls, Meridian, etc. For the City of Nampa the statement was that they raised taxes in the City of Nampa because of urban renewal districts which put Lloyd Lumber out of business. They wrote a letter and will be sending this urban renewal support letter to all legislators in our jurisdiction.

John Evans said in the context of this discussion, we haven’t addressed the portion of fines that attributable to court costs for over forty years. He would like to explore locking arms as Cities and Counties to address court facility costs. The facilities portion of court costs has not been adjusted for decades. He intends to bring this up at the AIC forum and feels that this issue should be dear to Counties as well.

Treasure Valley Water Quality, TMDL Development/Wag

Pete Wagner, the Regional Administrator with Idaho DEQ, stated that current events necessitate a need to change the topic of discussion. He indicated that the wanted to talk about air quality issues. The Ada County Air Quality Council was meeting today and he wanted to talk about issues that would be brought up at that meeting. He wanted to give the Partnership a heads up on an issue that was likely going to hit the papers in regards to the Canyon County vehicle testing program.

Basically on the Friday before the Ada County Air Quality Council released a document to its board members. It was a covert audit of the DEQ Systec Program in Canyon County and Kuna. The audit is critical of the Canyon County program in the areas of customer service. The vehicle that was used in the Audit was one that was owned by an employee of the testing contractor that works in the Ada County program.

Evidently this vehicle went the rounds in the Canyon County program and was reportedly turned away in 12 out of the 22 shops that are operating. One of the policies of the Program relies on vehicle indicators that basically are reliable gauges on whether the vehicle will pass or fail an emissions test. So instead of going ahead and testing a vehicle they know is likely to fail due to a check engine light for example, they tell the customer that the car is going to fail the emissions test. Do you still want us to test you and charge you, or do you want to go get the care fixed before you undergo the testing fee.

Vern asked how an individual can look at the dash board on the vehicle and predict that I will fail the emissions test. Pete said that the testing programs in both counties rely on the on-board diagnostic system in cars. And if a check engine light is on, it is a very good indicator that the vehicle will fail the emissions test.

Pete said the big thing he wants to stress is the State has no desire to run the Ada County program and as far as DEQ is concerned the Ada County Program is free to run on its own.

David said that one of the concerns they have is the check engine light. They will not check it with a check engine light that is lit. He feels that this is one of the policies that need to be changed. Some cars lights come on over issues that have nothing to do with the emissions, for example if a transmission is acting up. David added that Steven Coe with DEQ is doing a really good job. He is working to make the science accurate and is getting a good count on what emissions are and how they are being reduced.

Garret said his experience with the Canyon County testing program was very good. It took ten minutes, cost $10 and he was on his way.

Directors Report

Bill said that most of the things on his agenda have been discussed as a matter of course through the meeting. He pointed to some summary information on the Treasure Valley Camp process that has been underway.

John Bechtel moved to approve the minutes and financial report. David seconded. Motion approved.