Elected officials working
together to positively
manage community
growth.

Meeting Minutes
November 25, 2019

Attendees

  • Alecia Almazan
  • Chad Bell
  • Gheen Christoffersen
  • Tom Dale
  • Tammy de Weerd
  • John Evans
  • Brad Holton
  • Debbie Kling
  • Diana Lachiondo
  • Nathan Leigh
  • Garret Nancolas
  • Stan Ridgeway
  • Joe Stear
  • Darin Taylor

Staff and Guests

  • Terry Derden – Ada County Prosecutor’s Office
  • Greg Hill - Director, Idaho Policy Institute – BSU
  • Jeff Lavey – Chief of Police, City of Meridian
  • Robert Simison – Mayor Elect, Meridian
  • Nancy Werdel – Ada County Prosecutor’s Office
  • Bill Larsen - TVP

Welcome and Introductions

Mayor Garret Nancolas welcomed everyone to Caldwell. The previous Friday night they had 15,000 people in downtown Caldwell as they turned on their lights. This year they had over 1 million lights.

Garret asked everybody to visit the Indian Creek Plaza before they leave Caldwell. This plaza with its lights and decorations have turned into a real attraction. Between now and the middle of January, they will have between 5-600,000 people in downtown Caldwell. They have a pedestrian counter on one of the bridges in the plaza. In 2017, from November – January, they had about 170,000 crossings. In 2018, which is the first year they opened the skating rink and the plaza downtown, they had over 400,000 crossings in the same time frame.

He mentioned we just had the tragic loss of a very sweet lady, Jess Harrison. He asked for a moment of silent in her remembrance.

This is one of those bitter-sweet meetings. For those who recently lost in the elections we have been blessed by their participation.

Open Discussion

Fact Finding

Garret indicated his Fire Chief said that it appears they have the votes to get “fact-finding” through the House. This is a big issue for cities, and we need to be involved in this during this legislative session. He has started working with Senator’s Rice, Lakey and Windor and feels they understand. He has been educating Senator Rice on how a city works.

If this goes forward this will completely change the funding negotiations as there will be no reason to negotiate any more. Under Fact-Finding, if there is an area under State code that is required to be negotiated, (salaries, benefits, working conditions, etc.) which doesn’t come to agreement in union negotiations, then it automatically goes to fact-finding. No matter what they decide you have to live with, whether you can afford it or not.

Property Tax Group

This group will require a lot of attention this year.

Governor Meeting with Partnership

Bill indicated that for the first time, the Governor of Idaho will be visiting with the Partnership on December 9. He wanted to know how many members will be attending this TVP meeting. Two members in attendance indicated they could not attend, and all others indicated they would be coming to the Dec. 9 meeting.

Garret asked if it was ok to send a representative as he was having surgery that morning. Nathan indicated he would be bringing Parma Mayor Elect, Angie Lee and Mayor Elect Robert Simison also indicated his attendance.

Bill pointed to a list of potential topics for discussion for the Governor’s visit and asked for member input.

Garret indicated he just got back from the National League of Cities. In some ways it is a wonderful experience, in other ways he comes back deflated. When he sees what other States are doing with things like local option or sales tax, it depresses him. The City of Mesa, Arizona just funded a big infrastructure project that passed by 75%. There are numerous examples throughout the country of projects that address needs. For him, local option is a needed discussion topic for the governor.

Diana said, lets put local option on our list. She knows the business community is coming at the Governor with the same message. She continued, Bobbi-Jo has been such a great addition to that office and why we are getting this meeting. He wants to hear it so let’s talk about it.

Tom said he wants to know what they are going to do with Medicaid funding. They are talking about requiring property taxpayers to fund a large part of Medicaid expansion. Tom would like to get a commitment from him that they will leave property taxpayers out of this funding mix. Diana said he had made that commitment at the IAC meeting recently.

Diana said they are going to get around that by taking our revenue sharing dollars.

Tammy said that is how we frame that discussion even on property tax. They are local funding revenues, whether they are property taxes, revenue sharing, etc.

John said they are working hard on the new-construction role attack. They are starting to roll out the explanation to help frame that. You have a certificate of occupancy in year 1 and can’t recognize it till the third year. So we are always behind on that.

Tammy agreed but added that it is too complicated. The best way to talk about new construction is, growth pays for itself. Her citizens do not want to pay for growth! Don’t take exception if they start going after new construction, when growth pays for itself. And now you are reigning in new construction which means the current citizens are paying for growth. She has an issue with that.

John said, when he was down at the working group meetings, one of the confusing things is they are not segregating the impact on the levy. For example, they look at increases in the budget and anticipate the correlation between that and the tax levy. Increases in budget due to new construction can actually act to help hold the levy down.

So, they are working on that. Any ideas the members have in this regard, needs to be shared as they are setting up meetings with AIC and representatives. They are also working with Senator Rice and Representative Mendive on this issue.

Tammy asked that in Johns research if he could start showing the bleed from State funding responsibilities to local governments. She thinks that will benefit us. For example, mental health is a big issue and is starting to take a huge toll in all our communities. They are not appropriately funding assistance, and local governments are fitting the bill with enforcement and instituting programs like TIP.

If we could be showing the continued shift in burdens onto local governments and the funding formulas and the pieces they keep taking from our revenues. Whether it’s the shift onto property taxes for schools when schools are the State’s piece.

John said they are hitting on the Internet Sales Tax which is being captured by the State. It was projected at $30 million but looks like it will be more like $60 million. Internet sales will continue to take a larger percentage of retail.

To go along with binding fact finding, John said we also have the whistle blower issue. Ada County ended up paying far in excess of the limit for HR related damages. The Idaho Supreme Court said there is no limit on whistle blowers. This is an issue that needs to be corrected. We are going to see this affect our rates.

Garret said as he sits on the ICRMP Board, what is happening is all employment claims are now being filed under federal statute. The real concern is under federal statute, tort claims act is not in place. So the $500,000 cap is not there. The other part is, under federal 1984 claims (Civil Rights) whistle blower is now being deemed to qualify. Which means, if you even just get $1 in settlement you would be responsible for all the attorney’s fees. The attorney’s fees are astronomical. One of the last things they saw at ICRMP is they had 4 attorneys at $500/hour…The attorney’s fees were $1 - $2 million.

John said, the fear is now, any employment related suit we now have will be filed under whistle-blower. We have seen this play out in other arenas.

Tammy said there is another issue relating to police. The whole issue around whether police not being able to ticket something unless they see it. John said, to fix this, you need a constitutional amendment

Chief Lavey felt this would not get fixed unless you could make the fix for protection of victims of domestic violence, only. He doesn’t see the constitutional amendment because it would give law enforcement the ability to go in and make an arrest not committed in their presence for any reason.

Their Chief’s Association have looked at this as a priority to push forward on this issue, but it will take a constitutional amendment to get it done. They are working on putting talking points together.

Member Turnover

As there was a turnover of seven members of the Partnership this last election cycle, Bill asked for volunteers to participate in welcome meetings for the Mayor’s Elect. John and Diane indicated they would handle the Ada County welcomes. Brad and Tom indicated they would welcome the new Canyon elected. Gheen indicated he would help with the new Marsing Mayor.

Hands Free Driving Ordinance

Diana introduced Nancy Werdel who is on their civil team and Terry Derden, the chief legal counsel for the Ada County Sheriff. As we discussed at our last meeting, as Meridian has already gone through this, they are also looking at the Hands-Free Driving Ordinance. They are trying to look at it from a county perspective and the fact they have several cities that work with the Ada County Sheriff’s office for contract policing.

She felt it would be good to hear how this might be operationalized in the County, Star, Eagle, and Kuna.

Tammy said, in Meridian, they have already had a couple weeks of enforcing and Chief Lavey was here to answer any questions along those lines.

Chief Lavey said in May they proposed to the Mayor a Hands-Free Devices Ordinance. They presented this to Council and did four public hearings over a five-week period. This ordinance essentially takes cell phones and other devices out of the hands of drivers.

They had a lot of discussion whether to allow people to have a device in their hand while at a stop sign, for example. There was also a lot of discussion on whether this is the right thing to do or not.

The reality is, these mobile devices are causing accidents and increasing congestion. The City of Meridian took action and he is hoping other jurisdictions of the TVP will come forward. One of the things he has learned is, eventually the State will realize they have to do something that is consistent. It has happened before, with the TVP on all kinds of ordinances such as Pseudoephedrine, Covered-Loads, etc.

They have been working with the Idaho Coalition of Motorcycle Safety and other orgs. along with Senator Rice and other legislators to get this in State Law.

Tammy asked the Chief to explain what they are doing with regard to public education. Chief Lavey said they reached out to the Office of Highway Safety and got a $22,000 grant to cover signage, billboards and advertising. Some of the advertising they have done include; bumper stickers, a public safety announcement, movie trailers at the movie theater.

Garret said most of the new cars dating from about 2014 have onboard blue tooth and other capabilities that allow people to talk on the phone through the stereo system. How does this come into play? Chief Lavey, said this is distracted driving. But it is not easy to enforce. The goal is to get the phone out of drivers’ hands, so they are not distracted with that.

Gheen said there have been some studies on this since these hands-free driving laws have been put in place. People are trying to hide the fact they are on the phone and they are looking down instead of the roadway. He has heard the crash percentage has went up.

Chief Lavey said they are seeing that, and that there are studies that say these laws make no difference. That was part of their argument and that is why they set the fee at $90.00.

Diana said she did not want to move forward with the ordinance in Ada County until she gets the pulse of the jurisdictions where they do contract policing. Also, she wanted to know if the other Partnership members were looking at this Hands-Free ordinance.

Darin said they have looked at this and have two questions. Some cities are saying we have inattentive driving and why do we need something else? Two, they have a question of what constitutes being on the roadway. Chief Lavey said the State definition of a roadway it is the travel portion of the roadway, so if you are sitting in angle parking for example, you would be ok. Additionally, with regard to inattentive driving, it is different across the state. However, it is set up so that it requires them to see a serious outcome, before you can cite for that.

Debbie said as a council, they have decided to sit and wait on this issue to see what happens in this year’s legislative session. She also felt if they were going to do it, it would be best if all the jurisdictions in Canyon County did the same thing.

Tom said he thinks this is on the Association of Counties priority list for this next year.

Tammy indicated that when we got together to do the Pseudoephedrine Ordinance. We were not all on the same page with language and there were a few jurisdictions that were hesitant to join in this ordinance. Doing the right thing is not always easy. If we had to wait till all of us agreed, we would be doing the same thing the legislature did.

Diana agreed. Joe said he would be completely on board based on what his Sheriff and Police Chief want. Greg said the attitude from his jurisdiction was generally positive.

Darin said his council would be favorable if the other jurisdictions in Canyon County were in. Tom said the county commission has talked about it. Garret indicated their council have explored the concept. They have two new council members coming on-board, so they decided to delay the discussion till January.

Diana asked Nancy to summarize the differences between the Meridian Ordinance and the Ada County draft. She indicated the major difference is the definition of a device. Right now, they have included a little more than Meridian did, like a Kendal switch, game-boys and other devices. She had a conversation with Boise, and they were looking at a definition of a device more like meridian. She added they were thinking about scaling their definition back.

It was generally agreed that we would continue this discussion in January.

Treasure Valley Survey 2019

Greg Hill thanked Garret for the invite and he always enjoys coming to Partnership meetings. They completed the 2019 Treasure Valley Survey in September. You can pull it up on our website at https://www.boisestate.edu/sps/surveys/treasure-valley-survey/

Survey research is evolving so this time they incorporated some different techniques. They did about 650 phone survey’s, about 300 web-based survey’s, they had about 50 text messages. This will be a method they use more of in the future.

Today he will talk about the results of questions identifying growth, transportation and community responsiveness. If members are interested in generating some crosstab analysis of the data, please get ahold of him at BSU and they can put it together. They actually have the full book of crosstabs on-line. Go to the SPS Survey’s website and it will be there.

Summary of the survey findings.

  • The largest segment of the population have lived here 1-5 years. ahead of those that have lived her for over 30 years, for example.
  • 29% of people are moving here to be near family. Only 11% of people moving here, do so because of affordability.
  • 75% of respondents say the Treasure Valley is growing too fast.
  • 49% of the people commute to work. 88% of those said they drive alone.
  • 67% of the people agreed with the statement, “if the public transportation system wee much more efficient, I would still drive my car to work.
  • 77% of the respondents live in a single-family home.
  • 65% of renters say their rent causes financial stress. Whereas only 32% of homeowners say their mortgage causes financial stress.

Greg reiterated that if there are specific information members want to tab out, please contact him. He thanked everyone for the support they have given the Institute over the years. His phone number is 208-426-2917.

Brad suggested we make this part of our Retreat this next year. Learning what the demographics are doing in the valley is very beneficial and would be better if we had a longer time with Greg to ferret out some of these crosstab questions.

Director’s Report

Bill said a proposed meeting schedule for 2020 was in the packet. He requested members check against their calendars to identify any conflicts.

Darin moved, Brad seconded to approve minutes and financial report. Motion passed.