July 29, 2019
- Kelly Abersasturi
- Chad Bell
- Gheen Christoffersen
- Tammy de Weerd
- Tome Dale
- John Evans
- Brad Holton
- Debbie Kling
- Diana Lachiondo
- Stan Ridgeway
- Joe Stear
- Darin Taylor
Staff and Guests
- Russ Fulcher – US Representative, Idaho 1st District
- Jess Harrison – Association of Idaho Cities
- Kendra Kenyon – Ada County Commissioner
- Bobbi Jo Meuleman – Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, Office of the Governor of Idaho
- Bill Larsen – TVP
Welcome and Introductions
Commissioner, Diana Lachiondo opened the meeting and welcomed everyone to the July 2019 Treasure Valley Partnership meeting. She introduced fellow Ada County Commissioner Kendra Kenyon.
Joe mentioned how impressed he is that whenever the Treasure Valley Partnership group gets together, we have a large number of attendees. It really shows that we all want to work together, and it is good to see that.
Stan said it is amazing how many people come in and talk to him and ask questions like, do you ever talk to other elected officials and the county…. They are surprised when he recounts these Partnership meetings, and it is not just the county, it is other jurisdictions throughout the valley.
Tom said he had gotten to share with one of his fellow commissioners about the Partnership earlier that day. The history of the Partnership was to create relationships among elected leaders in an informal environment. It is a forum where elected officials could share problems and solutions among the jurisdictions, so we are not operating in a vacuum.
Projects of the Partnership came as an outgrowth of the relationships that are being built. The purpose is to not build projects. The purpose of the organization is to continue to provide a format where relationships can be built, and solutions can be shared.
There was some discussion on having growth pay for itself and the collection of impact fees. Jess cautioned that impact fees are constantly under attack by the legislature and that we need to be diligent in educating constituents and others on the need and use. Joe added there is a lot of confusion around what impact fees are and what they are used for.
Tom said they have been talking with fire districts that are being affected by growth and expects them to present a plan for impact fees. Impact fees are a tool that are not property tax that we can use to pay for infrastructure needs. He thinks the uniform message to the legislature needs to be to provide local governments tools that are not property tax for infrastructure needs.
Jess said in her discussions with legislators around the local option sales tax for example, yes, this tool would be good but there would have to be a corresponding drop in property tax. So, we have to be careful about how we talk about these non-property tax programs.
The subject of school districts not being allowed to collect impact fees was brought up. Kendra indicated this was discussed a couple years ago and there was fear they would take away from cities and counties to provide for it. She added that schools have horrible requirements for bonding which also adds to their problems with keeping up with growth.
Diana said that the Kuna School District has been looking at it. Joe stated he has been pushing them for years to run this idea through the State School Board Assoc. There has been some positive moves but they didn’t follow through.
Jess said the School Board Assoc. has had a resolution on the table for being able to charge impact fees, for years. They have tried and can’t even get a hearing in Rev and Tax.
Debbie indicated it is important for all of us to have a relationship with our legislators and continually educate them on impact fees.
In the past when talking to legislators about schools collecting impact fees, a common question coming back was if we let schools do impact fees, would they be willing to give up some of their bonding authority?
Kelly said it is wrong to not collect impact fees. Without impact fees, you are asking the people that are currently living here, to foot the bill for the growth.
Tammy agreed with Kelly and indicated that during their budget hearings where impact fees are involved, the comments come out in support of charging the full amount allowable. Otherwise the current residents are footing the bill for growth.
State Issues Affecting Local Government
Diana introduced Bobbi-Jo Meuleman with the Governor’s Office. Bobbi-Jo said sitting and listening to the discussion has been refreshing. There is a view out there that the Treasure Valley leadership doesn’t work together. It is nice to see the elected leaders working together. She would encourage the members to invite your local legislators to these meetings. If you look at the legislators from the jurisdictions of the Partnership, there are some power houses and can get things done.
Collaboration is why Governor Little established the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. This is a new thing to the Governor’s Office. Governor Little is all about collaboration. He wants to know what all levels of government think. At the end of the day, we are not always going to agree on issues. But at least through the process, we know where everyone comes from.
In the Intergovernmental Affairs Office, they are a staff of five here in Boise, with one in Northern and one in Eastern Idaho. Their job is to be out meeting with all the governmental partners at the Federal, State and local level. It has been really encouraging for her. She has observed, that on the city side, the issues seem to be common across jurisdictions. ITD…. for example.
Bobbi-Jo said she has talked to Bill and they are hoping to get the Governor to come to the December Treasure Valley Partnership meeting.
Grocery Tax Repeal and Revenue Sharing
Bobbi-Jo said Governor Little was very honest in his campaign in that he supports the reduction in sales tax on groceries. He has not waivered on that and they are currently in discussions on this issue. Not all groceries are equal, and those discussions might lead to action within the near future.
Jess reiterated that we want to be involved with what that looks like as it has a big impact on local government. Debbie said the impact on Nampa would be almost $1 million. It would be good for all of our jurisdictions to calculate the impact of these revenues so that information could be used for education on the issue.
Jess said, when we are talking about replacement dollars for grocery tax repeal, if those are frozen, it creates a huge problem.
Diana stated that one of the points made in their forgone hearings centered around jail space. The Ada County Jail has now failed the jail inspection two years in a row. This means they are ripe for a lawsuit and ripe for the Federal government to come in and tell us what to do.
She is encouraged by new Director Josh Tewalt. They are having discussions around the number of inmates that are actually the responsibility of the State. On the night of their foregone hearing, it was 18%.
Whatever we can do to support transition centers when it comes up, we want to do that.
Bobbi-Jo said you are going to see Governor Little be supportive of Josh’s efforts. She encouraged us to be watchful and once there is a clear picture of what that looks like, talk to your legislators and support that need. Sure, it is going to require beds and beds cost money. But the enhancement of support to keep parole violators out of the system is an investment in the future.
Tom said that everyone knows the Canyon County Jail bond failed. What most people don’t know is that Custer County also had a jail bond fail. This is a state-wide problem where more jail space is needed. And the big problem is these facilities can only be funded by property taxes.
Federal Issues Affecting Local Government
Diana welcomed Congressman Russ Fulcher. Congressman Fulcher believes the most difficult level of government to operate in is City and County government. One of the reasons for this is you make you decisions right in the face of your constituents. He thanked the members for what they do and said he is one of the few that recognize how important their role is. He stated he does everything he can to push things away from congress and keep it in the hands of local jurisdictions.
Congressmen Fuller is closing up month number seven in his congressional tenure. He has two primary committee assignments. One is natural resources which he pushed hard to be on and the other is education and labor.
His district represents virtually all of western Idaho with a little bit of Boise and zigzags north to the Canadian border. Congressman Simpson represents the eastern half of the State. Both he and Congressman Simpson have had the discussion that they don’t let that line distinguish what they do. They are there to represent Idaho.
In terms of positive things. Our national economy is doing very well. Growth is good and employment is doing good. In Idaho, our jobs base has been in transition from resource-based employment to a service-based economy as represented by percentages. There is nothing wrong with service-based jobs, but they just don’t have the impact of resource-based jobs. That is one of the reasons he fought to be on the natural resource committee.
The position of the U.S. in the global economy is a lot stronger than it has been. A lot of that has to do with our energy independence and exports. Energy exports have increased two-fold in the last two years. It has put us in a situation where we have a lot more leverage around the world.
Our military is incredible. Consumer confidence in the U.S. is very high. And as you know, this is a big driver for our economy.
Regarding our border, he has never experienced anything like it. We will legally immigrate 1.2-1.3 million people this year. This will be more by far, than any country in the world. The massive rush on the southern border is fueled somewhat by our strong economy. If you are a worker in Guatemala and you can figure out a way to get into the U.S., your average pay goes up 17 times. There-in lies a big part in why this is happening.
This influx of immigrants represents a very real homeland security threat. It is not just people from Central and South America coming across the border, there are people from Syria and other middle eastern countries. Also, there is a significant number of people coming in from China.
As good as the economy is doing, they don’t have an approach or even a plan to address the national debt. The debt is now around $22 trillion. This is problematic and reduces our leverage as a world-wide power. He has raised this issue personally with the President and the Speaker and party leadership.
In terms of things he is involved directly with, he is the only freshman on the immigration reform working group and he has been involved with many natural resource issues.
Congressman Fulcher indicated he does interact with the Speaker of the House. She is quite reasonable when you interact with her. However, she is absolutely committed to not allow many things to be addressed that could be construed as a win for the current administration. She sees that as her role, right now.
Diana said, we have been talking about the growth happening in the valley. One of the things we have been hearing a lot is we are a victim of our own success. So many things that are generally seen as positive indicators are now impacting long-time Idahoans negatively. For example, when it comes to affordable housing, in Ada County, 50% of our renters are paying more than 50% of their income in housing. When you get an opportunity to work across the isle, this is one issue that needs to be worked on. The problem is really nation-wide but is especially hitting us hard here in the valley.
Congressman Fulcher said one of the reasons he wanted to be on the natural resource committee is directly related to this concern. The historically, the percentage of resource-based jobs in our state was significantly higher than it is today. This has changed the ratio of people that can make a living on one job.
Part of what he wants to have some influence on is to get the natural resource economic engine improving so we generate more of these resource jobs. The other component has to do with the education piece. He thinks, BSU turned out 27 software engineers this last commencement. The open slots available is somewhere around 1,000+.
Kelly said that he is aware that the Treasure Valley growth largely consists of the senior population. This is one of the reasons for the growth of the service economy. Where he lives, it is just the opposite. In Homedale, they are getting the younger generation that can’t afford to live in Boise, Nampa or Caldwell.
Jess asked if there is anything happening with regards to grants for sewer systems and infrastructure needs. Congressman said, we in Idaho are tenants. In the scheme of the nation, Idaho is what is called a welfare state. For every $1 we put in we get about $1.35 back, where many eastern states put in $1 and get about $0.65 back.
Darin moved, Chad seconded to approve the minutes and financial report. Meeting Adjourned.