July 27, 2020
- Trevor Chadwick
- Gheen Christoffersen (webx)
- John Evans (webx)
- Brad Holton
- Diana Lachiondo
- Angie Lee (webx)
- Lauren McLean (webx)
- Garret Nancolas (webx)
- Jason Pierce
- Robert Simison
- Joe Stear (webx)
- Rich Sykes
Staff and Guests
- David Conley – American Legion Veteran, Suicide Prevention Pilot Program
- Bill Larsen - TVP
Commissioner Diana Lachiondo welcomed everyone to the Ada County Emergency Response Center.
This TVP Subcommittee has been formed to develop advice and options around telecommunications technologies. The subcommittee has been working on this effort. Rich hosted a tour of their developing Fiber Program to provide a better understanding of the fiber utility option.
- The City of Mountain Home’s Fiber-Optic program will create an “Open Access Network” where all ISP’s jump on to the Cities- platform. They are trying to provide internet access to kids that don’t have access at home. They recently turned up the wi-fi at the library so access could occur in the parking lot during the pandemic. They are in process of installing free wi-fi in three parks in the city.
- Eagle is looking at what has been done in Ammon, McCall and Mountain Home and they are looking at creating a fiber network as well. They wanted to see how it worked and if logistically it would be feasible. Now, they are going to reach out to ACHD and ITD re: their roadways and how they can lay the cable.
- By creating a fiber network, you really open that service up to a free market. In Ammon, the cost to get a gig, for example went from $99 to approximately $9. As per a recent article, internet access in Ammon, Idaho was the cheapest in the country. They also utilize the system to provide free service for those in need that cannot afford it.
- Eagle is also looking at their development agreements to have fiber conduit put in the ground during new construction.
- Eagle put in for the Cares Act funding to provide wi-fi at a few parks.
Legislative Property Tax Committee
There has been just one meeting of the committee so far and there are a lot of moving parts on the property tax relief issue. John said he and Kelly Packer, AIC recently had lunch with Senator Jim Rice who is co-chairing the interim committee. They have a future meeting scheduled with Representative Monks. Their motives for these meetings are to find out what they are looking for from cities other than cut-cut-cut.
- One of the biggest issues is how they are going to ensure Urban Renewal Agencies are held harmless. They were talking about freezing the base in 2020 or 2019.
- The legislature fails to recognize that cities have varying obligations based on their size and geography. For example, John doesn’t have a homeless issue in Garden City. But his neighbor does. He does not have an issue with tourists that double his population every day. But Sandpoint and Blaine County do.
- Another issue with property taxes is you have years and years of changes and exemptions that have been made. If you are going to look at it, you cannot have a one size fits all. For example, we have all these tax-exempt companies that we provide services to, that do not pay the way.
- One of the problems is the legislature is focusing a state-wide policy on the impacts that occur in no more than 10 cities out of the 200+ in the State. In a lot of cities around the State, like Grangeville and Dubois, you do not see a property tax issue.
- Some in the legislature seem interested in pitting cities and counties against each other. They utilize unfunded mandates as one of those tools. Counties face unfunded mandates where cities do not. Counties have unfunded mandates for coroner’s office, sheriff’s office, courts, etc. Cities get to self-organize. Part of the reason cities self-organize is to provide a better level of service for fire and police. Moyle’s viewpoint is that cities should not provide police and that is the role of the county.
- Jason said the legislature gets attacked all the time because property taxes are going up. We need to find the right way to take this off their burden. Because really, they don’t have any control over it. And because they do not come from local government, they really do not know how it works. That is where we need to have our legislative relationships and provide good education.
- Treavor asked if we have a presentation, we can put together, that shows where taxes are coming from and where they are spent? John said AIC is putting something together.
John said, during his conversation with Senator Rice, the topic of Impact Fees for schools came up. There has also been a conversation around a real estate exchange fee/tax that could be used for schools. The goal would be to help deal with these capital bonds that are starting to fail more and more often in these override elections.
One of the things John tries to emphasize in their meetings is the loading we see because of the rapid growth in school districts and their need for capital projects.
- Jason asked, what has been the pushback over the years with the legislature as to why they are against impact fees for schools. John said, over the years, they have made carve outs that were intended to keep schools in their own silo. They have kept anything to do with schools and their, funding the sole authority of the legislature. He feels this is something we can address.
Treavor asked if we could put together a policy position letter on school impact fees with all of our signatures for all of our legislators in the area.
- Diana said we should wait and see what to the school board association to see what they are going to do. This is the right year as the West Ada district has a big levy up again. If it does not pass and it may back the legislature into a corner on this issue.
- John said he thought a letter would be fine. He felt we should work through our city/county organizations to get to that point and be a sub supporter of that effort. He will follow up to see what AIC is doing and Diana mentioned she would talk with Seth at IAC.
- Impact Fees as they are defined in statute would be untenable for schools. A straight impact fee for schools could put $40-$50,000 on a house.
- Treavor said he thinks we need to do an impact for ITD as well. He was some preliminary numbers. If you did this on the MPO’s in the State, say you did a $5,000 impact fee on the COMPASS area, you could have over half of the unfunded projects, funded in the next eight years with this money.
Other Legislative Issues
- John said there is a big fight brewing over the Governor’s emergency authority.
- Diana mentioned they are going to push for increasing fees for drivers’ licenses. Right now, they subsidize each driver license between $5 and $7.
- John felt one of the things we say every year and bears repeating. We as City/County leaders need to maintain a relationship with our local legislators. With some legislators, this attempt at a relationship will fall on deaf ears. We need to continually keep asking the question, what about what we are doing, do you not like? We need to keep after them and don’t let them say, that is our problem to figure out.
There is concern about Cares Act funding because of a disconnect between the Governor’s office and the Controller’s office. The Governor’s office is pretty loose. What Ada County is tracking through their clerk’s office is pretty onerous in terms of the amount of tracking necessary.
The issue with the grant program is it is federal money. They have to track the money after the fact to take care of the accounting process for the next several years. Garret indicated they have lots of federal funding sources and do not want to damage those sources due to a black mark they might get as a result of the administrative burden put on as a string to this money.
The question is, once the State disperses this money, is there a secondary level of tracking that is necessary. The money that is being distributed now, there has been no discussion on secondary tracking.
According to Alex Adams, they could have claimed up to $50 million in Ada County. Given the experience they are having with the Controllers office, they don’t see how that would fly on the other end. Diana said she doesn’t think her attorneys are going to be satisfied unless they get a letter from treasurer saying it is an appropriate use of funds
Garret said when they sent in their letter it said their participation was conditional on receiving a letter from treasurer stating this was an appropriate use of money. The Caldwell attorneys advised them of the same thing and that is why they included that statement in the letter of intent.
We need assurances from somewhere. John said he will continue to pass this message along.
Veteran Dispatch Teams
The American Legion has developed a new comprehensive veteran suicide prevention program. While addressing this issue nationally, they have found that a lot of problems that lead to suicide happen before they get out of the service. There are a couple of big pushes with this new approach.
First, they are developing their own post. By that he means they will have a place on base where everyone can meet with them up front. Each person will have a chance to meet with them and their veteran service officers. This will lessen the transition period if they are already involved with the American Legion program prior to discharge.
Secondly, they are creating Veteran Dispatch Teams. These two-member teams will work with cities and counties to provide services to veterans in distress through 911 calls. Their main job will be to help act as a intermediary between the person in distress and any first responders. Their main goal is to keep the person alive. One of the main priorities of their work is to keep the veteran out of cuffs. Experience has shown that things tend to go south the minute police bring out the cuffs, even if they are just taking the person to the hospital.
Each team will receive 16 hours of Applied Suicide Intervention Suicide Training (ASIST).
The tricky part for developing these teams is coordinating with the police departments in the valley. He has met with Ada and Canyon Counties Sheriff’s Office and they are very supportive of the program. He has also met with a few of the Mayors in the Valley.
One of the things we know about veterans that commit suicide is they are drunk or high when they do it. They are starting a program to work with bar owners and provide training to staff to see the signs of danger and call the dispatch teams.
The dispatch teams will primarily work as an intermediary for the veteran and will work to get the person involved in counseling through the VA or involved with other programs. They will begin this program in September.
The VA in Washington DC is viewing this program as a pilot for a nationwide effort. The VA is allowing this program to work with folks before they get out of the service. This has never been done before.
The last portion of this program will be for incarcerated veterans. They will be working here in Ada County in the veteran dorm and transitional housing programs to provide education and training. In addition, they are working with the prison’s in the area. Their program will be working with veterans prior to release to help them with anything they can.
People can get a hold of their organization by calling any of the American Legion lines. They can be reached through suicide prevention counselors at Gowen, Mountain Home and the VA. Also, they have been working with the Idaho Suicide Hotline and other services to get the word out.
The development of this program is a long-term effort. He anticipates they will have all their teams trained and the various protocols and programs completed by the spring/summer of 2021.
David Conley’s contact information is 208-600-4571, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bill mentioned we were going to reelect officers at our retreat in March, but our meeting got canceled. We have a real need to elect officers as we lost our board President during last year’s elections. He plans on having this as an agenda item during the August 31 meeting. Currently, Mayor John Evans is the Vice President and Mayor Brad Holton is the Secretary/Treasurer.
The new Partnership website has started to get populated and he encouraged members to feel free to be critical.
Treavor moved and Brad seconded to approve the June minutes and financial statement Motion carried.