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Meeting Minutes
May 18, 2015

Attendees

  • John Bechtel
  • Tammy de Weerd
  • John Evans
  • Bob Henry
  • Brad Holton
  • Nathan Leigh
  • Garret Nancolas
  • Greg Nelson
  • Jim Reynolds
  • Rick Yzaguirre

Staff and Guests

  • Carrie Dimirelli – Neighborhood Summit – ID Crime Prevention Assoc.
  • Nena Vigil – Neighborhood Summit – ID Crime Prevention Assoc.
  • Matthew Weaver – Deputy Director – ID Dept. of Water Resources
  • Bill Larsen – Treasure Valley Partnership

Mayor Nathan Leigh opened the meeting and welcomed everyone to Parma. At the conclusion of the meeting and before we go to Parma Post and Pole, there is a sack of onions complements of Watsons. Former Mayor Margie Watson’s business hosted the meeting and her tradition was always to provide a small bag of onions for her colleagues.

The tour of Parma Post and Pole will be of their furniture division. If we care to stay longer, they will take us through the sawmill for those that are interested. Tammy mentioned she is looking forward to the tour as she gets her fencing material from Parma Post and Pole.

Open Discussion

Nathan indicated that one of their restaurants is changing hands again. It is still open but as the members know it is real tough to have a sit-down restaurant in a small community.

They have had some interest from a couple businesses in developing a couple of hangers at the Parma Airport. They are talking to a landowner to purchase property to extend the airport to 3,200 feet from 2,700 feet. In about three years they want to go 3,700 feet.

Western Labs has a state-of-the art facility and host 2-300 people each spring. All the way through town, their businesses are thriving.

Parma has an Economic Development Association that is moving along very slowly. They actually have had an approval for an informational platform that talks about Parma. That will come in its own good time.

The Parma schools graduation is coming at the end of the week. They have 48 graduates that have earned the Bruce Mitchell Scholarship. This is a remarkable program they have in Parma. It is an endowment of several millions of dollars. Each year 35-40 of their graduates get a continuing scholarship as long as they are in school and have the grades. It is a $5-6,000 scholarship per person. Bruce Mitchell was with Idaho Power and when he passed away he gave about 2/3 of his fortune to the school.

Nathan Leigh indicated he has had a lot of encouragement to run for the office of Mayor this upcoming term. As an appointee he has had a great experience and is weighing the decision.

John B. indicated the he is in his last term and won’t be running this next time. This will complete about 20 years as Mayor of Wilder. With service on the City Council it is almost 30 years of public service.

Garret said they just started a program called “Caldwell Saves First”. It is a savings account for college for first graders. The statistic shows if a student has a savings account in their own name by third grade, they are seven times more likely to not only go to college, but to complete college.

Garret continued that 34% of the population in Caldwell is either unbanked or underbanked. So they use payday loans and title loans and get into that cycle. Obviously this takes money from the family for college. So they decided to start a program to attack both of those things. They just launched the pilot project where they had 50 students that were selected. They wanted a representation of Caldwell and there was a good mixture of the races, sex’s economic levels etc. involved with the selection.

They worked with the 529 Savings Program with the State. They required the kids and their parents to attend four financial preparedness classes. The banks that taught the classes agreed to waive fees and requirements for bad debt, to get people started in this program.

If the kids completed the four-week program, they put $15 into a savings account for them and linked the parents’ savings account for them. All the money has been donated by the community. They start with $15, and then if their parents save for six months in a row, the program kicks another amount into the account to match the parents’ saving. If the kids maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher during the school year, the program donates to the account. If the Kids do 10 hours of community service, this also triggers a deposit to the account.

Garret indicated that the J.A. Katherine Albertson Foundation and the Caldwell Foundation for Educational Opportunities are going to participate in this program. He indicated this program is real easy to replicate and encouraged the members to contact him to get assistance in getting the program started in another community.

Tammy asked if Garret had found this model somewhere. Garret said yes and no. When he went back to the National League of Cities Conference he attended the San Francisco Bank-On presentation. This is kind of a hybrid of this San Francisco program. San Francisco, with tax money, started a savings account for every 3rd grader in the City.

Rick said they will be having their 3rd annual Fishing with the Commission Program. It is at Settlers Pond in Meridian. They partner with Fish and Game and they bring out a trailer. Fish and Game provides everything from poles to bait and will even help with taking the fish off the hook for the kids. This program gets a little bigger each year. Tammy said that Fish and Game has been great partners and works with them on their free family fishing event.

John E. said they are partnering with Fish and Game to put in a handicapped accessible dock at one of the ponds in Garden City. Bill asked if there was help from grants. John E. said Fish and Game came to them with the idea.

Jim mentioned that kids put out 600 flags at Merrill Park for Memorial Day. They honored two WWII veterans that are 94 and 96 years of age. He encouraged members to come buy a flag and participate in the event.

John B. said they are holding a Blue Grass Festival the last weekend in June and will be having their parade and picnic for the 4th.

Greg said that Idaho Power has been doing some improvements at Swan Falls. They put a dock in the reservoir and they made a bunch more places to camp.

John E. said the Greenbelt Bridge across the river is set. It will be operational soon. This bridge cost $750,000 and ITD had a grant that is paying for most of the bridge.

Tammy said their Family Movie Night will start real soon. Each Friday night during the summer they hold a movie for the community at Settlers Park. Law enforcement and public safety are sometimes under intense scrutiny. So they wanted to show that they are family friendly and supportive and participating in this community event.

Tammy said the Youth Council in Twin Falls is doing a “Selfie with the Cops event. She feels we need to support our law enforcement in light of all the noise happening across the nation that puts law enforcement in a bad light. We need to find ways to show our appreciation and the human side of our police officers.

Garret said they have three positions open in the City. One of them is an economic development position; one is for Deputy Treasurer and a media person that can do website work. In addition, the City of Caldwell has an internship program through all their major departments.

Tammy said they have a summer internship program as well. It has been a popular program. They also rotate their interns to give them exposure to a variety of departments within the City.

Bill asked if anyone had any ideas on how to address the anti-federal attitude the Statewide SAUSA Program has encountered. Brad said the Canyon County Prosecutor Bryan Taylor was anticipating this type of attitude and would be happy to write some rebuttals if needed.

Greg said the Bureau of Reclamation was asserting a right-of-way on a drain in their community that they had not done anything with for 80 years. The first person they asserted this right-of-way with, where they would put in a road and take out some trees right next to the front porch. He was a member of the Militia. The Militia apparently has membership from a large percentage of Idahoans.

They suggested the Bureau come in to a Town Hall meeting and inform all homeowners that would be effected. The Bureau didn’t want to talk to people collectively. He feels this strategy just breeds this contempt by the Militia and whoever else.

Tammy said we need to continue to press the points the SAUSA Program has done for the State. John E. said at some level it may have to go beyond until the legislature sees the benefit to the State with the Cost Benefit Analysis we have given them. In the interim, the locals might have to stew in their own juices if the political will is not there to stand up to the anti-federal attitude.

Bill mentioned that he had recently talked to Dan Green, Kootenai County Commissioner who indicated that there is a commitment out of the County and Cities in Kootenai County to pursue the SAUSA Program. They are in the process of forming their group.

John E. said the legislature needs to buy into this and this is just pocket change to the State budget. So the people we need to convince the naysayers in the legislature.

Garret said during his meeting with the Governor and new Director it sounded like they both committed to funding a majority of that in next year’s budget.

Brad said, the northern Idaho prosecutor who is against the program is such an anomaly. His thought is we spend very little time addressing this issue.

Neighborhood Summit

Nena Vigil introduced herself as the Training Coordinator for the Idaho Crime Prevention Association. She introduced Carrie Dimirelli with the Boise City Police Department as the Historian for the Association.

The Idaho Crime Prevention Association is a nonprofit organization that was established in 1981. Its mission is to work with law enforcement and the community to prevent crime. Carrie added that their members span from Mountain home west to the TV including Emmett and other jurisdictions.

They were here to discuss their Treasure Valley Neighborhood Summit that is coming up. The goal is to educate communities about civic involvement. They empower people to go back to their neighborhoods by giving them resources and tools to work in their neighborhoods.

The Neighborhood Summit is going to be held September 26th at the Red Lion Riverside in Garden City. They will be putting on several workshops during the Summit. Some of the workshops being held include; Civic Duty, Community Engagement and Involvement, Building Neighborhood Pride, etc.

Carrie said as they are putting this Summit together, it is about livability, sustainability and place making where you are taking your specific place and making it better. It is a lot of neighborhood engagement. The Summit will also highlight how to build neighborhood capacity through grants that are available, board leadership and other improvement activities.

The Summit is targeted to individuals that want to get involved to improve their neighborhoods. They are working with Valley Transit to offer shuttles to the event and to do tours around a neighborhood in the valley that has gotten engaged and made improvements.

Nena highlighted a letter she had sent to all the Mayors and Commissioners in the valley that describe the upcoming event. She indicated that they are going to have an elected official’s breakfast Saturday morning on the 26th and invited the Partnership members to join them.

Tammy said she had attended these summits in the past and they always have a good program with lots of quality key-note speakers and workshops.

John mentioned he did not see a letter and asked them to send the letter to Bill and he will reroute it to the members.

Carrie indicated that the City of Boise has donated to the Summit along with grants from Homeland Security.

Tammy asked about the costs associated with helping to sponsor the event. They indicated they would really take any amount. But $1-200 seems to be what folks are giving.

Tammy said as they are looking at the workshops, one thing came up during her listening tours is that you have a lot of HOA’s that want to know what to be looking for in terms of illegal activities and what to do. Meridian and other cities do a front-line worker training for all the utility workers and others that work the street. Nena indicated they do this type of training.

Tammy said the other thing was using social media to communicate among neighborhoods as well as reporting crime. Carrie said they are planning on having a social media section during the Summit that will be promoting the “Next Door” program.

In regards to reporting suspicious activities, Carrie said they provide training on this to all their neighborhood watch groups and promote this when they talk to all the HOA’s they work with. It will also be highlighted during the “Residential Security” track during the Summit.

Tammy said that a lot of the jurisdictions participate in National Night Out, but the feedback she has gotten is that they would like to change the date to a time when it might be a little cooler.

Carrie said that the planning on this National Night Out is involved to get all the public safety involved. They could look at changing the date in Idaho as she agrees the timing in August is real hot.

Tammy said that this is something maybe we could talk about among the Partnership members to do a valley-wide event in September instead of the August date of the National event.

Flood Control – Fill/Refill

Matt said he was here to talk about the Fill/Refill issue on the Boise River. He had met with Bill, Jim and John E. several weeks prior and at that point it was decided that there was a need to come discuss this issue with the Partnership members.

There is a lot of common ground on this issue between the Department, the State, the Federal Government and the water users. Everyone involved in this would agree that the historical practice of refill and the policy of refill are important to the valley. It is not a question of whether refill should be allowed, but it is the details associated with refill.

Some of what has been in the news about this issue has been describing the refill issue as a taking. The State and the Department are taking a private property right that exists. It is his belief that this is not an issue of takings, but how you define a water right. The issue is what happens when the Bureau of Reclamation releases water that is stored for irrigation or some other beneficial use in the reservoir, and releases that water for flood control. This is not related to the beneficial uses of the water rights.

This is an issue that comes up in years of plenty because we only do flood control releases when there is a lot of water in the system. The question is whether the Bureau is entitled to a second fill of the reservoir under the priority date of its base water rights.

Matt said the Boise Project was authorized for two different uses. It was authorized to store water for beneficial use, primarily irrigation. It was also authorized for flood control. The way you maximize flood control is to have an empty reservoir. The way you maximize irrigation is to have a full reservoir. Those two uses are to a certain extent, mutually exclusive of each other.

They have a flood control manual that was adopted in 1984 that provides a method for reconciling those two beneficial uses.

The fill/refill issue is playing out in two legal forums at this time. The first is the Snake River Basin Adjudication where there are current filings by the Bureau of Reclamation for refill. It is also playing out in an administrative hearing that was enacted by the Department to address their current administration or accounting practices for water rights.

In years when this comes to play, we have filled the system during the winter but have had to release water because of flood control concerns.

Garret asked what happens in years like this where a majority of the snow pack has been gone for a long time. Matt said that this year, it is unlikely they will fill the reservoir in the first instance. So their base rights, the original rights associated with each reservoir, would account the fill toward their base rights. This issue doesn’t even come to play in a year like this because we are not going to have flood control operations that would dictate large releases of water.

In these instances, the dry years, they just operate under their base water right with whatever priority date is associated with the reservoir. For example, Arrowrock is 1911.

Tammy said they are doing a release right now, why is this happening if it is going to be a bad water year? Brad said this is flow augmentation that has to go down stream due to other people’s rights. Matt said that flow augmentation is a detail in this but is a separate issue. There is something out there called the Nez Perce Agreement where the State of Idaho, the Federal Government and the Southern Idaho Tribes agreed to release a certain amount of water for fish health. The Bureau targets 40,000 acre feet of releases out of the Boise Project for those flow augmentation releases.

Tammy said as she has tried to find out from her staff and from others that are in tune to this issue. Many feel there is not a problem. She asked Matt to define the problem we are looking for a solution for.

Matt said part of the reason they have been in discussions for as long as they have is concern looking toward the future. If we end up with a priority date that is not an original priority date, does that mean that some type of future activity, whether its climate change, increases in flow augmentation or new junior users on the system, will diminish their historical ability to refill. That is the concern.

Tammy asked if this was to avoid legislation to solve this issue. Wasn’t this kind of thing solved with the Upper Snake River Basin Adjudication? Matt said they had this identical issue in the Upper Snake. They were successful in coming to a settlement agreement among all the water users. They, as a group stipulated to the court on a group of water rights for flow/refill purposes, and the SRBA is in the process decreeing those water rights that will address this refill issue in the upper Snake.

They are also in negotiations in Basin 63, which is the Boise and Payette and the Little Wood Basin as well.

Matt said there has been proposed legislation in response to this issue. They have seen a number of attempts. The word he has gotten from the legislature is they don’t want a legislative solution where there isn’t a unanimous solution among water users.

Tammy said that basically, this is a proactive attempt to establish the refill water right policies and how we can protect the junior water rights as a part of this.

Greg said that part of our problem as Cities is the water users don’t represent them. We sent out letters and never received a response to those letters that explained the answer like you did today. We are not at the table. We are just whistling dixie if we think the water users are representing the interests of the city. It wasn’t clear to us and when we asked questions, no one responded.

John asked what the nexus between this topic with refill and the ground water they pump out of. Matt said the aquifer system is complicated in the valley. Most of those aquifers, to some extent, are recharged either by the river or by the canal systems that go throughout the Treasure Valley. A lot of the increase in aquifer content away from the river has come from incidental recharge. This is water that flows out of the canal and drain systems. Matt said this issue is not connected.

Brad asked if it was a true statement that the Dept. has concern going forward there may be potential challenges against the refill that the Dept. wants to sew up. Matt said, historically refill has occurred and it is a benefit to all the water users. It is also their perspective that refill didn’t occur under a water right. It occurred under an administrative practice they use to account for water. That is a fact that is in dispute.

In regard to the Basin 64 Contested Case, the purpose of the case is to address and resolve concerns to how water is counted or credited toward the fill of water rights. This is to give the water user a chance to participate in determining the administration of the water.

Directors Report

Tammy moved to approve the minutes and financial statement. Greg seconded. Motion passed.

Bill asked for input regarding topics for the Annual Strategic Planning meeting September 24th and 25th.

Tammy said we do need to talk about water in general. Water is not just an issue in eastern Idaho. We should have the Association of Idaho Cities and the Idaho Association of Counties at the meeting to participate in the discussion.

At AIC, in the strategic plan, they want to focus on relationships with natural allies as well as collaborations with those that are not natural allies. So when things come up at the legislative level you have various stakeholders you can tap into to all row in the same directions.

This last session revealed that local authority seems to be under attack and undermined. All these local taxing districts and partners need to be on our radar with regard to increasing relationships.

Brad said it would be helpful if we could get the Boise Project Board of Control to come have a discussion around water issues.

John said that recharge is an issue. Brad added the recharge issue might have some sticky rulings that DEQ or the EPA could help us discuss the issues.

Tammy said for some of us that have road departments, the new legislation gives 30% of that money to locals, do we need any conversation around this? What does it mean and how are people going to be utilizing that. We would know more; as a result we will have questions to ask our Ada County Highway District.

Tammy suggested the Boise Valley Economic Partnership and a follow-up to the Leadership Conference and some of the topics about branding and having the common message.

Meeting adjourned.