January 25, 2021
- Trevor Chadwick
- Gheen Christoffersen
- John Evans
- Brad Holton
- Debbie Kling
- Lauren McLean
- Garret Nancolas
- Jason Pierce
- Robert Simison
- Joe Stear
- Pam White
Staff and Guests
- Chris Atwood – Deputy Criminal Chief, ID US Attorney’s Office
- Bart Davis – US Attorney for Idaho
- Rafael Gonzalez – First Assistant U.S. Attorney for Idaho
- Eric Forsch – Broadband Development Manager, Idaho Department of Commerce
- Kathy Griesmyer – City of Boise
- Justin Whatcott – Deputy Civil Chief, ID US Attorney’s Office
- Bill Larsen - TVP
Welcome and Introductions
Mayor Joe Stear Welcomed everyone to the January Treasure Valley Partnership.
Impact on Growth
John said the most significant piece of legislation so far is SB 1021, which is intended to limit the growth of budgets. To summarize, if you limit the rate at which our budgets can grow, there is a corresponding impact on growth.
He thinks the presumption by some of the legislature is if we restrict the growth in budgets that the growth in the projects in the cities will outpace the budget and this will drive levy’s down, thus providing some property tax relief.
Bill mentioned that Trace Giles will be contacting members to obtain background information for base admittance.
John said another example of an impact is in Nampa. We won’t have any more Amazon’s. This would kill an amazon type development if you as a city must take on something that big and you don’t get to add this into your property tax base? All of us get Dept. of Commerce emails about companies that are looking for square footage. How can you as a city, take any of this on without being able to adjust budgets accordingly.
Brad said they don’t have alternatives when looking at Greenleaf. Any subdivision development makes a big impact on the City. They are currently looking at two different developments. He is going to have to tell them no if the legislature enacts SB 1021. He is not going to annex them within the city and have two different classes of citizens. It is not right to have the current citizens paying property taxes and having to pick up the burden for the new growth.
The economic component is so dramatic and will end up affecting a lot of people. We know, that when you limit home inventories, over time it will drive home prices up further.
Stratagies Moving Forward
To fight this thing, we have to enlist the help of our growth-related businesses in our respective cities. For example, John has contacted the major developers in Garden City and explained the situation to them. He has told them, anything in the pipeline we are going to slow the processing down or not finalize the processing until we know whether we can afford to approve another development if they are not going to get the money to serve it.
The discussion point is, are we willing to have those discussions with those that are driving private sector development in our communities. Not as a threat, but as information. They are businesspeople and they understand that without corresponding revenue, we are going to get hamstrung.
If we can get these folks engaged and get their associations involved in the legislation, it will be a very effective for us. John has talked to the State Association of Architects.
John is not sure we should put out press releases on this as we have elements of our communities that want to see growth slow down. It is a double edge sword, but we have no political downside on this. We need to make the growth argument and the argument regarding the economy, but the other side to this is that is our citizens might want us to put the brakes on. Joe agreed there is a segment of our population that would like to see growth slowed down.
Garret indicated he has reached out to Tommy Alquist and David Turnbull around this issue. He asked if anyone knew Corey Barton. Trevor indicated he will be meeting with Corey Barton later in the week and was going to relate this message. The members present agreed that it was that Trevor represent their jurisdictions as in agreement with this message.
Joe asked if we should be talking with banks and whether they would be doing any efforts with the legislature as restriction in growth would affect their bottom line. John indicated he would be talking with Bill Connors of the Boise Metro Chamber. There are a lot of bankers and development financing folks that are members of the Chamber.
John is composing a letter to Senator Rice. It will basically challenge the CPI (Consumer Price Index). We are not buying milk and cheese and general consumer products. This is not what drives city and county budgets. We have payroll, PERSI, emergency vehicles., specialized equipment, IT, ever expanding requirements to archive data, etc. Those are things that are not going to be accounted for in the CPI.
Brad pointed out that the CPI index they are talking about is based on the change from 2019. This is a smaller potential change than we can imagine. They sat down and dialed the CPI index it into their budget and it boiled down to $87.00 for the change for this year.
John said one thing that has popped up recently is a push from the new administration to get a national minimum wage bill through congress. With control of all three branches at this point, the administration may have the ability to get the $15.00/hour minimum wage enacted. He knows this would require a significant increase in the entry level positions he has. Particularly in the library and temporary summer labor workforce. Then of course, this increase will also wreak havoc across the pay scales within the city.
These increase in minimum wage requirements are not anything that will get picked up in a CPI analysis.
One challenge we have is, Mayors are going to have to lead, and if we have to wait and get the blessing of the policy arm of the jurisdiction, then time may run out. Anybody that is willing to testify when SB 1021comes up and labels this as a growth slow-down bill, will do a good thing. We need to continue to emphasize that the growth of the budget has very little if any nexus to the growth of an individuals’ property taxes.
Debbie thinks it is important that they see us and that we don’t just have other people do the talking for us. She is going to go down and testify if she can.
Garret mentioned he will not be able to testify at the moment due to health concerns. This does not mean he is not contacting them. Chelsea is the cities lobbyist and feels they like her better than him anyway…lol. She is bright and personable, and he is old and ornery, so they respond better to her.
John said there will be very limited attendance allowed at the Capital. There may be an opportunity to testify remotely. As soon as he finds out the procedures, he will let everyone know. Joe said he appreciates all the work John has been doing on legislative issues.
Kathy said the points made so far are spot on. The only piece she wanted to add was if folks are looking at having any available law enforcement show up at the committee room. She thinks there is important that officers and fire chiefs talk about what this means to public safety budgets at a time when these are the largest pieces of our municipal budgets. She did know that Sherriff’s associations and firefighters’ unions are opposed to SB 1021 and are looking at turning out at committee.
Concerned Citizens of Canyon County
Debbie said the good news is the Concerned Citizens of Canyon County are suggesting that the legislature take action on the Circuit Breaker and Homeowners Exemption. She is pleased that those that were on the other side of the fence last time, are now alongside of us.
John agreed, the Concerned Citizens of Canyon County and their stance is a big deal. Usually they are pointing fingers at local government and that we are the ones that don’t know how to manage our budgets. He read the editorial they are putting out and it is well written and to the point.
Other Legislative Issues
There are current resolutions to curtail the Governor’s power as it relates to emergencies. Almost everything going on at the moment is related to the governor’s powers.
The AIC is taking another run at on-line notifications, so they don’t have to do newspaper expenditures. In a lot of places around the State, the newspaper doesn’t come out but weekly or bi-weekly. And there are a lot of local papers that have went out of business. On-line seems to be the way people are getting their information.
There is a commitment by leadership to deal with the city council district legislation that was passed last year. There are some nuances that need to be addressed to make it be able to be applied.
There has been effort to fund Post by adding additional revenue from the State and taking revenue from cities/counties’ liquor fund. The AIC Board had come out in opposition to this. The issue is, Post does not have enough revenue to maintain current operations. They need an additional $800,000/yr. The proposal is to have the State pay $400,000 of this and have local government pay $400,000 through the liquor distribution account. So, $200,000 would come out of revenues from those cities and also from counties that have liquor stores. Divided out, it will not be a significant hit, but it is just another chipping away at the revenue we get. The belief is, without AIC and IAC support, this will die in committee.
John proposed that we add another $5 to every ticket we write to go toward Post. Last year, Garden City contributed approximately $36,000 to post and they did not have anybody that went through the academy.
There is an idea about local option tax for university communities. He doesn’t know if this will go anywhere this year. You have communities that are hit pretty hard in their service obligations because of the influx of students. Boise isn’t going to notice it so much, but a Rexburg is.
There is a city quarantine power RS that would preempt cities from instituting local quarantine orders. There is an effort to redefine the powers of local health districts and the powers of mayors.
Joe introduced Eric Forsch, the Broadband Development Manager with the Idaho Department of Commerce.
Broadband is a pressing issue across the State. It is not just a rural problem, but urban problem as well. There are lots of different ways to accomplish broadband goals. Wireless has been an option for some rural communities. It doesn’t provide fiber to home but reaches a fairly broad area and reaches speeds of 100 mb down and 10-20 mb up. As an example, one of the ISP’s is looking at a wireless program in the Lake Lowell area.
When it comes to broadband, the State had $50 million in broadband grants. We originally had 137 applications. They ended up funding 83 projects throughout the State of Idaho for about $38.3 million.
He really appreciated all the work cities did on these broadband projects. It is a monumental achievement. There was a ton of work involved to get through the paperwork associated with these grants.
There were 90 wi-fi hotspots that were created in these projects. They brought broadband speeds to over 30,000 households in 25 communities across the State.
In Lewis County, they did about ¼ of the county with fixed wireless broadband. To him, this is a substantial impact and couldn’t have been predicted as an outcome. It not only impacted households but also businesses in this very rural part of the State.
There were a lot of public safety/local government grants to communities in the Treasure Valley. We were able to bring fiber to local governments like Greenleaf, and these local grants included a wi-fi hot spot as well. They had a project to make the Payette Library a hot spot. During the summer, due to Covid restrictions, they had people huddle up outside the windows of the library to be able to access the internet as that was their only option.
Going forward there are a lot of opportunities. He will be available to help with broadband planning. He also keeps close tabs on sources of funding. And he keeps track of ISP’s. So, if people want to know what ISP’s are operating in the area, let him know.
As they work on developing internally some maps and understand more of the broadband landscape. He encouraged people to reach out to him to find out what the infrastructure looks like and how we might be able to leverage those partners.
Trevor thanked Eric. The City of Star got a $380,000 grant. With the grant Star received it installed wireless hotspots at one of their city parks and their City Hall. They actually have about 200 up and down at these hotspots. They have people that flocking to the park to use the hotspots and a lot of kids are using them to do their schoolwork. It has been a blessing for their city to be able to do that.
Debbie said the discussions that have been taking place here in the Partnership around broadband have helped them focus as a City. They have a big company coming in and putting in some fiber in Nampa. She feels one of the problems is not being able to identify what is already in the ground.
Jason asked if they as a City can buy “dark fiber” from those that have already strung it, using some of these broadband grant funds? Or does the fiber have to be theirs from start to finish?
Eric said this runs into the question about judicial confirmation for cities. You would want to talk to your legal team and some other communities that have gone down that process. You might want to talk to the City of Emmitt to hear how they built out their network. The went from 2 to 6 providers in that City. They have been wildly successful and have done it by boot strapping the project.
Robert indicated they have done a little bit of everything in Meridian. They did a little of their own, they have had other people put in some for them and they have participated in cost shares, etc. It has all been piece meal between who, when and how. Eric gave a plug for Mayor Simison for corralling TDS to grow in the market. It was good to get some competition in the marketplace and he anticipates they will grow within the area.
SAUSA Program Salary Proposal
Bill introduced Bart Davis, US Attorney for Idaho and Chris Atwood with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Chris has been working with the Canyon County Prosecutor’s office to develop a preliminary salary proposal for the SAUSA program.
Bart Davis said this may be his last meeting to say a few words with the Treasure Valley Partnership. He has been around first with the Legislature and at his current position since the inception of the SAUSA Program. This program means a lot to the US Attorney’s Office and he knows it means a lot to the communities.
When the program first started there was a hope that the program would be effective. He had no idea that it would be as effective as it has been. He takes his hat off to the Partnership for engineering this program.
Bart said they have hired a significantly impressive person as the current SAUSA, and we need to be able to retain her.
Chris pointed to a draft salary proposal that he hopes will keep the position competitive. This position requires someone with some experience and skills. When both he and Justin Whatcott took the SAUSA Position in previous years, they both took pay cuts to come into that position.
In the proposal you will see some incentives on the front end because of the limitations on the back end. The proposal starts out at an initial starting salary point based on 5% more than the salary at the Canyon County Prosecutor’s Office. Each year there would be a 5% increase till year 3. At that point in time, the salary would cap out of the Canyon County Pay Structure.
Bill indicated that over the next several months we will have to do some work on how we increase the budget for this program. As an example, our current SAUSA Program’s salary and benefits total near the $100,000 that is currently contributed to the project.
In the proposed salary structure for the SAUSA, this amount ($100,000 for salary and benefits) would be the starting point in the pay structure. They are proposing a 5% annual increase to the salary for the first three years. The current SAUSA has been on the job over two years and under the new structure, total costs would be approximately $10 - $15,000 higher than our current contribution.
We have not had change in the Salary Structure of the SAUSA program since it started in 2007. Bill wanted the members to be assured that the state of the Treasure Valley Partnerships finances is good. We have a healthy reserve. And we traditionally undertake an analysis of dues based on news census figures, which are due to be out. He felt we would easily be able to absorb an additional contribution to the SAUSA Program.
Joe said we all realize as time goes on, that salaries need to change in order to maintain a competitive edge. He supports the proposal. Garret also indicated he supports the proposal. John said he is looking forward to seeing the proposal in final form and asked Bill to work with Bryan Taylor and get the proposal finalized.
Gheen said he really appreciates the SAUSA Program and what it has done for Owyhee County. They have a small population but lots of area. The impact this program has made in Owyhee County has been amazing.
Garret said the SAUSA Program shows the magic of the Treasure Valley Partnership and how local governments work to get things done. This has become an institutional effort. Most all of our members are new and there is no one else around when this began.
Himself, Tom Dale of Nampa and Dave Bieter with Boise were called into a meeting with Governor Kempthorne. Various law enforcement agencies and the U.S. Attorney’s office were in the meeting. The issue was how do we deal the growing gang crime in the valley and the drug corridor that was prevalent through the valley. One of the solutions was to have another US Attorney working to prosecute these crimes. The US Attorney’s Office budget is hamstrung, and they could not add another Attorney.
The three mayors volunteered to pay for this themselves. They brought this to the Partnership and low and behold all of the jurisdictions of the Partnership wanted to be a part of funding this program.
This is what the Partnership can do. This SAUSA Program has provided a lot to our valley and this program has spread across the State. This is the magic of the Treasure Valley Partnership and just one of the things this organization has done.
Joe thanked Garret for being one of the people that developed this SAUSA Program. He was real proud to be able to continue to carry out this legacy.
Brad wanted to take the opportunity to welcome Pam White to the Partnership and thank her and Canyon County for continuing to host the SAUSA. He also relayed thanks to Owyhee County as they were the original host of the project.
Pam White said she remembered being on the Nampa City Council when the SAUSA Program started. The most powerful thing was the fact that those being prosecuted were going to Federal Prison and were not staying here in Idaho.
She reiterated thanks to Garret and the Treasure Valley Partnership for the success and meaningful changes the program made in the communities of Caldwell and Nampa and throughout the valley.
Joe said one of the things we enjoy about the Treasure Valley Partnership is the fact we get to meet as mayors and commissioners and talk about a whole slew of issues we all face or need some help with. He welcomed Pam White and encouraged her to continue to be involved with the Partnership.
As a brief update, Justin said we are continuing to see the same type of criminal activity when it comes to gangs. The gang activity they are seeing center around drug trafficking and the possession of firearms. They do however, have their second racketeering case going on right now concerning a gang out at the prison. This is rare. In 2010, the SAUSA Program had its first racketeering case and there are not a ton of these.
TVP Secretary/Treasurer Election
Bill indicated he had just completed the tax return and audit with the accountant for the year. In the absence of a Secretary/Treasurer he just had Brad Holton take care of the appropriate reviews and signature. Brad had been the Treasurer for the Partnership for numerous years prior to former Ada County Commissioner Diana Lachiondo.
He needed a motion to accept Brad as stepping into that role. Brad moved and Joe seconded. Motion passed unanimously.
indicated it was not very onerous to be the Secretary/Treasurer. He would sign the checks every month and if we don’t, meet as a group, Bill and he would meet to go over the monthly expenditures and sign checks. Other involvement includes monitoring expenditures vs. budget, meeting with the executive committee to set the budget, and review the tax return and signing the form. He felt it was not onerous at all.
Robert Simison volunteered to take on the task of Secretary/Treasurer. Joe Stear moved to approve Robert Simison as the Secretary/Treasurer of the Treasure Valley Partnership. Brad Holton Seconded. Motion carried unanimously.
Treasure Valley Partnership Officers as of 1/25/21.
- John Evans – Mayor of Garden City – President
- Brad Holton – Mayor of Greenleaf – Vice President
- Robert Simison – Mayor of Meridian – Secretary/Treasurer
Brad moved we approve the minutes and financial statement. Debbie seconded. Motion carried unanimously.
Our next will be hosted by Trevor with the City of Star on February 22nd, and our next legislative updating meeting will be on February 11. He will be sending a notice out on this meeting as we get closer.