The GUARDIAN confirmed Tuesday that SkyWest Airline will lease a planned $30 million maintenance facility tax-free from the city of Boise. This means Boise Schools, City of Boise, Ada County, and ACHD will forego an estimated $500,000 in taxes on the city financed project EVERY YEAR!
Thanks to a constitutional amendment passed three years ago, airports are able to go into public debt through bond sales without a vote of the people. Boise will issue the bonds and depend upon rental payments from SkyWest to cover the debt. We should apparently ignore the recent bankruptcies of United, Delta, American, and most other carriers.
Despite a less than rosy financial picture for SkyWest, Boise has forged ahead courting the financially troubled carrier to locate the maintenance facility here. The WALL STREET JOURNAL reports the carrier is forecasting a full year loss, but hopes to avoid bankruptcy. The firm plans to divest itself of 156 aircraft in a cutback effort while at the same time claiming to create or bring 100 “high-paying jobs” in Boise after an initial 50 jobs are offered.
Since the city will own the facility–touted as being worth $30,000,000 by Mayor Dave Bieter earlier this year–it will be tax exempt.
Here is what we have learned:
“Although there has been significant speculation about this project, Skywest just today (recently) announced that they have selected Boise for an aircraft maintenance base. City staff are still working with Skywest to finalize a number of agreements related to this project. The following are the answers to the questions you posed.”
–The final cost the facility has not yet been determined however, Skywest will pay for the facility through a long-term lease.
–The City does intend to issue bonds to pay for a portion of this project. The bond payments will be paid by the lease revenue generated from Skywest’s lease of the facility.
–Members of the City Council were provided a general overview of the potential project. City of Boise staff were asked to negotiate an agreement that complies with policies and guidelines as set forth and approved by the City Council. Any contracts or lease agreements will be reviewed and approved by the City of Boise City Council through the normal Council process.
And if Boise’s concessions aren’t enough, the state of Idaho is offering up a 25% tax rebate as well, thanks to House Bill 546 signed into law last session. Called the “Idaho Reimbursement Incentive Act,” (I.C 67-4737) the new law is frightening in the power it vests in non-ellected officials, especially the director of the Department of Commerce. For every dollar of taxes generated in wages, 25 cents is rebated. The 25 cents comes out of the pockets of all taxpayers, not just the SkyWest workers. If SkyWest were to make a profit and pay corporate taxes, they would get the same 25% rebate…again from the citizens of Idaho.
SkyWest operates various routes for the so-called “legacy carriers” such as United and Delta. Bieter said on a recent radio broadcast that in terms of numbers of aircraft, SkyWest is the largest airline in the country.
GUARDIAN PHOTO SPECIAL
Fourth District Judge Melissa Moody has denied a petition filed by the Greater Boise Auditorium District to build a $22 million ballroom and kitchen without a vote of citizens.
Boise GUARDIAN editor David R. Frazier filed a response to the GBAD petition through his legal counsel, John Runft. Runft argued successfully that GBAD was attempting to purchase the project in a Gardner Corp. development in violation of the Idaho Constitution. GBAD called the financing scheme a “lease.”
Article VIII, sec 3 prohibits local governments from going into debt without citizen approval.
“It was gratifying to have Judge Moody see through the attempt to circumvent the constitution. Too many public works projects have denied voters their constitutionally mandated voice on public debt,” said Frazier.
In her decision, Judge Moody concluded with, “Pay cash; otherwise, go to the people.”
This is the third time Frazier has prevailed in similar defenses of the Idaho Constitution.
Read the entire decision:
Sometimes the most well intended actions can lead to disaster.
Such was the case when the Ada County Elections Office canceled voter registration for nearly 3,200 voters when they compared names of voters in 8 other states in an effort to curb dual voting. You can register to vote in only one location. Of that total 765 appear to have been cancelled in error.
Here are the details from the Ada County Clerk’s Office.
Under the leadership of the Secretary of State’s Office, Ada County is actively participating in a multi-state project to identify voters who are registered in more than one location. This allows each state to identify where an individual is properly registered and where they should be removed from the voter rolls to prevent duplicate voting. Idaho currently exchanges data between counties within the state to prevent multiple registrations. This project allows the state to exchange data between states and to cross check voter information including, name, birth date, and the last four digits of a voter’s social security number for identification.
As part of the project, earlier this week 3,243 of Ada County’s 202,515 voters were sent letters informing them that the county had received information indicating that they had registered most recently in another state. Therefore their Idaho registration had been cancelled. Unfortunately, a portion of these voters, 765, were cancelled in error due to a data verification error. Voters who were cancelled in error have been identified are, being immediately reinstated, and mailed follow up letters apologizing for the mistake.
“I want to apologize to all those who were affected by our mistake. This error is being fixed immediately. We are constantly trying to encourage voter participation and the last thing we want to do is to interfere with it,” said Ada County Clerk, Chris Rich. He also added “despite this error, I support the project and it is good that states are sharing information like we do within Idaho. Protecting our right to vote comes in many forms and preventing duplicate voting is one of them.”
Rich also told the GUARDIAN there were probably as many, if not more Republicans, affected than Democrats. The error was not politically motivated in any way.
Rebranding the Meridian School District to be called the West Ada District apparently didn’t help when it comes to bond debt votes.
Voters in the district turned down a proposed $104 million bond debt which requires a 2/3 majority, or 67% approval. The tally was 63 % in favor and 37% opposed.
Opponents of the “super majority” say bond debt is almost impossible to obtain.
In reality the super majority is a safeguard for elections like Tuesday’s where only 10% of registered voters bothered to cast ballots. Without the protection of the super majority rule, a mere 6% of registered voters would have been able to impose their will on 100% of the electorate.
Citizens of West Ada need to stand up and be counted.
…is a fun, factual, informed and opinionated look at current news and events in and around Boise, Idaho. The Guardian was born of necessity.