Sorry for the lack of material of late, but the fire in my ample belly is not burning too hot. For the sake of discussion and hoping to stimulate some discussion I will offer points to ponder, admittedly not researched, but worth noting. –DAVE FRAZIER, editor
ADA COUNTY–We have been informed that two former “operations managers” at Ada County (mostly the landfill duties) have retired, but are back at work as consultants or contractors. One has reportedly been hired by a temp agency which charges the county more than $100 an hour. Seems like it would be cheaper to eliminate the middle man on an insider trade.
ST. LUKE’S PURCHASE–If Saint Luke’s is able to dodge the taxes on their purchase of the old M-K Plaza 23 plus acres it will cost taxpayers well over $600,000 in lost revenue. Seems to us that it is time to eliminate the tax-exempt non-profit status of an outfit that is able to milk the government and insurance companies out of so many millions of dollars and pay such high wages to the medical people they buy.
DOWNTOWN–With the completion of the publicly funded foundation of the Gardner project (underground bus station) there has been an avalanche of publicity, but no mention about the apparent lack of a simple escalator. Bike lockers and we assume an elevator, but no moving stairs. Even the mall has an escalator!
The Greater Boise Auditorium District is reveling in the new addition which will cost about $23 million with no public vote on the debt.
Nice place, but with the new building, Aspen Apartments, Simplot’s JUMP and Hq, we noticed a distinct lack of trees. In fact, from the new area all you can see looking south and west is glass, metal, and brick. Stand in the treeless “Grove” and you could easily be in L.A. San Diego, or Atlanta.
TRAFFIC–Seems like everyone has a traffic horror story over coffee these days. Rude, inattentive texting, aggressive driving.
SINGLE CAR ACCIDENTS–We get the reports from ISP on all the fatals and major mishaps statewide. There is an inordinate number of single vehicle accidents and the report is often the same: “The driver left the right side of the road, overcorrected and a) rolled over, b) crossed the median, c) entered the oncoming lane and crashed head-on. Seems like a no brainer: playing with an electronic device or TEXTING!!
We got a “please play nice” press release from Boise coppers and based on their own numbers it seems that smoking, drinking and Uber cars are keeping them in business in the “vibrant downtown” of what we seek to be the “most livable city in America.”
We have previously noted that about 25% of ALL calls for police service are in the downtown area…much of which pays little or no revenue to the city of Boise because most of the taxes are diverted to the CCDC urban renewal agency.
Here is what the coppers have to say:
Downtown reminders… Officers ask everyone to respect others and enjoy responsibly
Boise Police Micro District officers have received several comments of concern from members of the Downtown public in the past few weeks. As a result, officers would like to remind folks of a few things to remember when enjoying the exciting resource that is the Boise Downtown area on weekends:
– Pedestrians should always remember to use crosswalks when walking around the Downtown area. Jaywalking can be dangerous to pedestrians when traffic is present, and it is also a citable offense.
– Many concerns have been received regarding disorderly conduct or people intoxicated in public. Officers ask people to enjoy Downtown responsibly and respect others so that everyone may have a good time.
– Taxi drivers are asked to use the specific designated lanes when waiting to pick up fares. Impeding traffic in a non-designated lane is a citable offense.
– Reports have indicated that some Uber drivers may be impeding traffic, using taxi lanes to pick up fares, or using parking stalls on Main Street to conduct business, all of which are citable offenses. Uber drivers are asked to conduct their business in private parking lots.
– Smoking on 8th Street is not allowed per City Ordinance. Those who smoke are asked to not on 8th Street, and officers remind that it is a citable offense.
Officers ask that all be respectful of others while enjoying Downtown Boise, and please be aware of these reminders.
Day did some really good reporting as he explained how Bieter and crew continue their assault on Boise motorists. They want to reduce the capacity of the two busiest east west routes by adding more bike lanes. Their professed goal is to, “get people out of their cars.” Whether or not they succeed, there is a very real chance those cars–and people–will stay out of downtown and opt for Meridian and points west.
Day published a series of e-mail exchanges in which the Idaho Department of Transportation and Ada County Highway District questioned language in document. CCDC spent $200,000 in public tax funds to promote their plan, but both the state and county pushed back. The two streets are designated state highways, hence the state jurisdiction. Each intersection is controlled by ACHD.
Boise refers to Front Street as a “pedestrian barrier,” yet both the city and CCDC approved the construction of BoDo along 8th south of Front. Take a look at Day’s story (linked above) to get a feel for the standard Bieter approach of, “We don’t want the public to be aware of this until it is a done deal. Then they can comment.”
No one (other than growthophobes) wants to stand in the way of growth–often erroneously termed “progress.” However like cancer, the Treasure Valley is on the verge of growing itself to death.
Meridian beams with pride at being the second largest city in the state. Meanwhile they also have the busiest intersection at Fairview and Eagle Road along with a school system chronically in need of more money through property tax bonds.
We often hear folks claim, “you can’t stop growth.” Maybe, maybe not.
What we can stop is encouraging growth. Every city, county, and the state all have versions of “economic development” agencies. In one form or another these agencies, while perhaps well intended, tend to PAY businesses or individuals to populate our valley which puts a tremendous financial burden on schools.
The most glaring example is the overwhelming need to replace Whittier elementary school where more kids attend classes in house trailers than in the main building. School officials blame it in part on progressive teaching in multiple languages. Many parents want their kids to experience the cultural benefits and language skills offered there.
Sounds good. An admirable effort. The problem arises when Boise and Ada housing officials vow to build “affordable housing” on bare ground in the vicinity. Since it is within an urban renewal district, NONE of the taxes on the improvements or appreciated value will go to Boise City or the Boise School District–it all goes to the urban renewal agency which is dedicated to attracting more business, which attracts more people, which attracts more kids, more cars, more bikes, more demand on water, etc. The contractors, bankers, developers all love it. The rest of the community pays the bill.
Former BSU football coach Dan Hawkins had it right when he said, “Bigger isn’t better. Better is better.”
The financing scheme at Harris Ranch in Boise’s east end has created a demand for a junior high school, fire station, and now a new elementary school. In fact, Boise school super Don Coberly revealed plans for a potential BOND REQUEST from voters for $172 million. College of Western Idaho is seeking another $180 million for new facilities, including tax-exempt facilities in the urban renewal district near Whittier along the Boise River at Main St.
We calculated that Boise schools, the city, county, ACHD and others lose a combined total of about $378,000 in property taxes on the SkyWest hanger the city built for the airline. That annual loss in tax revenue is FOREVER because there is no tax on city-owned buildings. The airport charges rent to pay off the bonds, but citizens were not allowed to weigh-in on the decision to build the $20 million plus structure.
If school officials would publicly oppose some of the unwarranted growth, or perhaps have veto authority over development plans, perhaps things would be more in balance.
…is a fun, factual, informed and opinionated look at current news and events in and around Boise, Idaho. The Guardian was born of necessity.