City Government

More Illegal Spending At YMCA by Caldwell

The Idaho Constitution and its pesky Article VIII, Sec. 3 has once again caused trouble for the City of Caldwell and its legal staff. The constitution bans obligations, liabilities and debts beyond a single year’s revenues without a vote of citizens.

The reason for the law is to prevent a city council from obligating the budget of a future council without their consent. This could easily be long after those who signed the contract are out of office. Hence, only the PEOPLE can approve multi year deals–usually in the form of bonds.

However, at a recent City Council meeting the city entered into an illegal, unconstitutional 5 year lease agreement with the YMCA. The $1 million annual payment of public money, combined with monthly payments meant to bolster the coffers of the Y at public expense on behalf of Simplot and public employees apparently isn’t enough for the YMCA.

That private club sought monthly payments of $575 from the Caldwell City Rec department to rent a single room for use by the recreation department–something one would think the Y would offer to the community youth since it is supported so predominately by taxes diverted to Urban Renewal. A YMCA spokesman told the GUARDIAN the City pays no money toward the $696,000 annual operation costs–that all comes from the YMCA. The $1 million in Urban Renewal money goes toward the capital expense of the building.

When the Caldwell GUARDIAN inquired of the City about the illegal lease agreement, the City responded saying, “It will be fixed at the next council meeting.” We draw no conclusions with regard to the intent of the city or the expertise of its legal counsel, but citizens deserve better.

No doubt the city will make the deal an annual agreement with renewals over the next five years or just make a lump sum payment out of the current budget. For us the issue is not so much the structure of the deal, but the nature of repeatedly using public funds–whether that of the City or Urban Renewal–for a private club, regardless of how noble the cause.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. I read the AG opinion on the free Y memberships for the Caldwell Urban Renewal Board members and the Mayor. It was troubling to me the AG pointed out the memberships were an illegal use of public money and was a felony but it served no public good to prosecute Mayor Nancolas and his fellow board members.

    Just where and when do the fat cat goodies stop for elected officials? CCDC director Phil Kushlan got a free membership and expenses to the ARID club a year or so back. All these people are above the law and continually get away with it.

    The people have NO CAKE so I guess we all get to eat bread on this.

    OUTRAGEOUS!

  2. serendipity
    Dec 6, 2010, 5:32 pm

    “The $1 million annual payment of public money, combined with monthly payments meant to bolster the coffers of the Y at public expense…isn’t enough for the YMCA.”

    I’m confused. The above statement suggests that the Y is not solely a ‘private’ club–but a combo of private/public. If completely private, they’d not be able to get public funds, no?

    EDITOR NOTE–We have never figured it out either. To the best of our knowledge the Y is indeed private. The Urban Renewal agency agreed to pay $10.7 million into the project and only if the Y closes can the URA claim any ownership. If sold, the City of Caldwell has first right of ownership to the amount paid in by the URA.

  3. I think it is incumbent upon the Idaho Association of Cities, the Idaho Assocation of Counties, the National Association of Counties and other such entities to better educate elected officials on current laws as they have in the past on changes to Idaho’s Open Meeting and Public Records laws. We’re never too old to learn from and to correct our mistakes.

    Caldwell officials should repay YMCA membership money, no question. Nampa officials should split the loss from the Bujak fiasco and share in the attorneys fees to pursue action, since they approved the unusual contract. Random thoughts before I return to my own business!

    BG: keep up the great work in informing Idahoans and allowing them to voice their opinions. Thank you for the correction in a previous post.

    KTA: SPJ, IPC

  4. Idaho AG Wasden made it pretty clear that public officials can do pretty much anything they want with his failure to prosecute on the freebie Y memberships for Caldwell Mayor Nancolas and his family at taxpayer expense.

    I would think Mayor Nancolas would be keenly aware of what he is signing but not in this case.

  5. David Zarkin
    Dec 7, 2010, 10:12 am

    So what does the city rec department do in this room they are renting at the Y? Aerobics classes?
    Since I am a city volunteer here in Bloomington I am interested in city affairs.
    Yo are the watchdog for the community. Keep us posted.

  6. Idaho Republicans can do whatever they want, especially in Cayon County. They own it.

  7. It’s ok even if they get caught. There are no penalties for bad behavior and illegal behavior.

    AG Wasden has said in a letter where the Urban Renewal board in Caldwell the Mayor got a family membership to the YMCA and other board members half memberships with public tax dollars. The AG said “it would serve no public purpose” to prosecute these errant public servants.

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