City Government

Boise Budget Woes Worsen, Mayor Seeks Extra $$ For Unions

If we understand what the BOISE WEEKLY’S George Prentice has written, it looks like there is a shortfall of several million dollars in the proposed City budget, but Team Dave is seeking some extra bucks for the coppers and firefighters.

The GUARDIAN has expressed concerns about inequities of our civil servants. The union members are not only paid better, but they get better bennies as well. Only firemen are allowed unions by state law and coppers can have unions if the local government approves–as Boise City did years ago.

To top it off we learned from one of the “worker bees” that department heads and “command staff” get a 4.5% match to their retirement savings programs while commoners receive only.5%. So, a director making $100,000 can set aside 4.5% which is matched by the city, but the working guy or gal making $30,000 gets only $150. Like Wall Street, the well paid folks at the top get not only a higher salary, but a higher match RATE as well.

This simply cannot be justified at a time when there is a budget shortfall.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. How about we just stop watering all the grass in the City… that should fix it.

  2. Departnent heads aren’t part of the union and the worker bees in the rank and file of the fire department aren’t getting a raise, so how again is this a “union” issue. Or, is this just an anti union rant?

    EDITOR NOTE–The Mayor called the police and firefighters our “contract employees.” No one else has a contract.

  3. BTW, I think the rest of the city employees got a one time bonus at the beginning of the year. Police and fire has just come later. Not that it matters.

  4. I understand police and fire are contact employees, but your article was mostly about the department heads and comparing them to wall street. Department heads are not contract union employees. I think we have two seperate issues that are being lumped under the union title.

  5. What do you call 5 guys with a big red truck and a lawnmower? Volunteer multitaskers. The way it has always been done in cities with no money.

    Mr. Mayor and City Leaders: The core businesses which have provided the Boise tax revenue bubble (Boise Bubble) these past couple decades has popped. Your overbuilt airport is used less every day. You now get very excited about a call center and a non-existent Chinese bus company LOL. You build housing and services for people with no job, no money, and limited potential because the Feds will give you some money to do it. (By gods grace that is not me yet.) But what is your indigent plan when the fed money stops? You are willing to let the military base three squadrons of massively noisy and air polluting jets here, to be flown mostly at night, if it means a few tax dollars. Several national chains are not interested in investing in the area. Lots of cheapo chains like Wall-Mart and its bottom dollar cousins are expanding a little. Pawn shop ads dominate the TV and radio.

    So, you must now face the reality that Boise is on the decline. Taxing the heck out of the little people will not get you through that fat retirement you have fostered. Yes, even your retirement could be at stake when the younger generation cuts your bennies. This is not New York, if you tax too much, we will just move to place with a better cost benefit formula. Because you do not have a money press like the Fed, you need to cut now and cut deep. Fuzzy math accounting rules won’t buy much time, and with cities going bust all over the country floating a bond is not like it used to be.

    PS, Money saving ideas: Please stop racing the fire trucks to the medical call 20 seconds ahead of the ambulance. It is dangerous, expensive, wasteful, and makes up most of their calls. Perhaps it’s time to start some serious logging and mining again too. I’m sure you can think of many more.

  6. Just put more people in jail, that seems to have been the answer for revenue in the past, why change what’s working?
    -side note I am being sarcastic, and also I’ve done the math, with the amount of people in the valley, and the amount of arrests that occur every day averaged out, in less than twenty years every single person in this valley will have their turn behind bars, such a wonderful feeling to know that this is still the land of the free…
    What a damn joke all this is, didn’t the governor release a surplus of money last year?

  7. brian vermillion
    Jul 24, 2012, 8:07 am

    More flim flamery by the mayors of the cities of Boise, Nampa, and Caldwell. You know these clowns meet and discuss wringing more money from us idiots that keep electing them.

  8. And I bet Boise raises our taxes again this year because they need more money. Perhaps that’s because they overspend on things like the arts and history “department” and taxpayer funded socks for firemen under the “contract” and extensive travel for the city council and poorly performing software for the building department etc etc etc

    The problem isn’t too little revenue, it’s what those people do with it which is overspend and spending on frivolities.

    Bieter made a big deal of how much the fire and police departments “sacrificed” (which means they didn’t get more, they got the same and that’s a sacrifice) during his annual breakfast telethon for the Chamber. I wonder if next year he’ll talk about how they were made “whole” as part of City Hall’s lean expenditures.

  9. I can’t help but notice a huge number of brand new city vehicles. I think this was done so Team Dave could claim they were chasing after the green fuels wave? Many green fuel vehicles also cost a bunch more than the V-6 or I-4 base vehicles. Some are even super expensive electrics? The most basic fleet has always been the cheapest fleet.

    The city should contract to subs and shift away from full service on most of the basic upkeep stuff. Nobody can do it cheaper than a small business.

    Also consider contracting police to ADA county.

  10. The city of Boise is the only (or one of the few) local taxing district(s) that took the allowed 3% budget/property tax levy increase this, and every year since the Great Recession. It’s sad the city can’t understand basic budgeting principles.

    Boise City should learn to live within their means. I mean, look at Ada County government itself. Those yahoos have been able to royally bend residents over a barrel without increasing their property tax levy (they’ve forgone the allowable 3% property tax levy increase for the past six years). Their folly of Dynamis and back-door land deals has been far loopier than the majority of what comes out of city hall.

    Budgeting. 101.

  11. I find it hard to complain when I was not at the budget workshops in 2011 or 2012.

    Observations.
    -The One Time Compensation in December is interesting. Note in the budget recommendations and elsewhere.
    “The $4.1 million, or 3.5%, increase in FY 2013 over FY 2012 is comprised of base and one-time
    compensation enhancements for general employees ($1.3 million) and union members ($2.6
    million), and related benefits for the funded staffing level. ”

    -I wonder about the union issue. Is it pay or monies to establish their own health care trust fund.
    “(In addition, the unions have offered to defer for up to two years, until January 2014, the final $1.4 million payment from the City to establish its independent health care trust fund.)”

    Read the whole budget.
    http://www.cityofboise.org/Budget/PDF/Budget/FY2012_2013/BudgetDevelopmentandAdoptionProcess/FY2012_2013.pdf

  12. A shortfall??!! How can they have a shortfall when they raised the levies to ensure they got more money even though propoerty values are down 50% from 5 years ago!

    The problen is they are SPENDING TOO MUCH – it is time to do what everyone else has aleady done – CUT THE BUDGET BY 30%!

    And the Mayor can start by giving up 15% of his salary like many of us in the private sector have already done. In short it is time to CUT!

  13. How do they do it?
    Jul 24, 2012, 10:44 pm

    Agree with Voter, but not just the Mayor but cut all of his department heads salries too. Think they already put a freeze on raises and hiring, cut each departments budgets by a certain percentage, tap volunteers, cut out all training, travel and conferences (they are already trained) cut out memberships, subscriptions, license fees (lawyers will pay their own yearly bar fees). Do they really need those new cars now?

    Increase fines for criminal offenses. Speeding ticket in Oregon is $300. Hear some cities are now taxing soda pop, one making $7 million/year from it. How did Meridian build a new multi-million dollar park? How do they and the county have extra funds to blow? Layoffs? Eliminating unnecessary services/departments? Or have they been blowing money for years and overtaxing us?

  14. How about forcing the good ‘ol boy police departments to work as a volunteer based organization, similar to the fire departments??? why not sell a couple of those brand new dodge charger cop cars or BMW bikes they all get to drive?? I bet if we tore apart our over funded police we would solve this little “short fall”

  15. I beleive the park in Meridian was built and donated to the City by the former landowner.

  16. The land may have been donated, but I think Meridian City designed and built the park and now fund the upkeep of it=power, water, lawnmowing, landscaping, trash pickup, restrooms, etc.. Nice but not a necessity. Maybe it created jobs for unemployed.

  17. @ How do they do it? The City of Boise’s police department is the only PD in the state with a union; Meridian’s police aren’t in a union saving them a ton of money.

  18. Sandy–They need a central place to distribute free lunches

  19. And boom there it is. Boise City increased their budget by the 3% so welcome to higher taxes and less services. Don’t do more with less or less with less – do less with more!

  20. Don’t think they cut any services, we get more, but do we need it right now? Barely keeping my lawn green, do we need more parks now? The city has always been pro-employees so they will get a small raise.

    Question: The cities cover the county’s fire department needs and they’ve done an excellent job, so why doesn’t the city cover all law enforcement and prosecutor needs? Wouldn’t it eliminate a lot of problems and costs not having to have an elected county sheriff and prosecutor? I’m pro-law enforcement but aren’t the city’s policemen/women higher educated and better trained so in the end it would be a win-win solution? I guess the legislature would have to eliminate those positions? There is a city marshal on the books but one doesn’t exist that I can find, so…??? And an elected county clerk? Don’t they work for the court anyway? Less elected officials that aren’t qualified and don’t have to answer to the public the better.

    EDITOR NOTE–You fuel the fire about the “state of Boise.” By constitution the Ada Sheriff is the top cop in the county. Cities don’t provide fire protection actually. There are fire districts in part of the county and part is simply unprotected. A countywide department on the model of ACHD has never gained any favor. Part of the reason is to have decent protection you would need stations in remote areas and those areas are so sparsely populated they don’t yield any tax revenues.

    In Oregon there is a recent trend for small cities to contract (outsource) with counties for services–opposite of your plan.

  21. Okay, agreed the Sheriff does a good job and they run the jail for all too. Don’t think we need a county fire department. We are lucky to have NIFCI right here and some great volunteers. Just because we have some rotten eggs in the mix doesn’t mean we need to get rid of the rest. Just sayin’ … tired of certain politicians. And the Mayor isn’t one of them.

  22. I have a question to the editor. Why hasnt their been any reporting on the Eagle and Star Fire Joint powers agreement? Then a once commissoner of EFPD hiring the New EFD Chief then leaving his post and quiting his job at Boise Fire to get hired at Eagle by the New Chief? Sounds kinda wierd dont it. Friends doing friends favors with public money.

    EDITOR NOTE–The easy answer is “what’s new?” Former BFD chief is now chief of Whitney and BFD contracts to cover Whitney and pay firefighters. His replacement left BFD and is commish at North Ada County Fire and Rescue along with the former #2 at Ada EMS. BFD contracts with NACFR as well.

  23. Lawrence Johnson
    Jul 26, 2012, 3:29 pm

    Zippo really? New city vehicles are kind of necessary right? new Vehicles polute less, save the city on gas, dont cost time and money to maintain. I think most business’s would agree that new vehicles are a cost effective way to do business. This is not where we save money. Yes its shiny on the surface but it pencils out.

    The Fancy airport being empty is not a sign of the city wasting taxpayer dollars. This is a recession. less people fly. When the economy comes back, Boise needs to have an infastructure in place to handle growth and culture.
    Money well spent I think.

    Bonified arguments will be heard. These will not.

  24. Lawrence Johnson
    Jul 26, 2012, 3:35 pm

    As conservatives in a liberal city, we need to be smarter. We need to be quiker. We need to work together. Being angry about a budget is ok, but think it through before we post. We can get behind good ideas, but its hard to find them amongst shots in the dark.

    Your Friend L.W.

  25. LJ: Sharpen your pencil. $$ didn’t pencil out, and will not until the spending is cut. This is not Cali or NY. No more big rich jobs and companies to tax around here… they left town.

    My cost cutting ideas are valid and being fulfilled all over the country. I have no apology if they are sacrilegious to a lifetime big spender. Whacking retirements is a very popular and effective cost reduction. You will hear more things in the future that you don’t like, and from a large group of people… get used to it. Even the norenders will turn.

    The new vehicles are not base models, thus it was not done like a business fleet. It was done as a green show. Those big diesel trucks do not get good mileage, but they can burn biofuel. They pollute many times the gas engines. Empty 2X airport is from pipe dream that crashed. “If we build it they will come” was some stupid idea about building an airfreight sorting facility here… 500 miles from nowhere in flyover country, when there is already three in the western region.

  26. LJ: PS, as was just demonstrated by Idaho Power when they built a power plant in one year… big things which are needed can be built quickly. An overbuilt airport in disuse is hugely expensive to have hanging around. Kinda like empty retail, office, and housing space… or vacant lots. Yet developers will somehow convince government to expand the empire even when it is known there is no end use market for it. The expansion will just be yet another burden on the taxpayer. My personal favorite at the moment in Boise is how you guys are trying to figure out how to taxpayer fund a free stadium for a professional baseball team. Is the real motive the profits of those who get to build it? Because it does not pencil out for the taxpayer either.

  27. L.W.-
    first let me say that I am having a hard time believing that someone would willingly admit to being a conservative, and also try to state that this is a “liberal city”, both statements I find dubious. This state is as about as conservative as they come, there are other out there to be worse, such as Texas, Tennessee and Utah, but this state still ranks up there in the top ten states to have the most oppressive government, also a person who claims to be “conservative” could not possibly be both conservative and human in this day and age, we as a people have moved into an era that welcomes change and growth, and those to claim to stand against growth and change, stand against the fellow humans.
    Second I disagree with your lack of emotion in such a topic as this, if anything the people need to be MORE angry, and more aggressive, this is the only way that the debacle of an ultra-conservative government will listen.

  28. Instead of trying to decide whether the city should contract with the county or the county with the city for LE services, why don’t you just go metro and combine them into one department like Las Vegas. Highly successful and more efficient. I agree wit the editor, the sheriff is the top cop in the county. Boise cities officers technically do receive more training hours per year than County coppers but that doesn’t make em better. I’ve seen much more professional behavior from the county coppers than the city boys. City Coppers seem to have big egos and a superiority complex. I think most of that came from an influx of LAPD guys years ago. Very anti community policing attitudes and it shows. Take a lesson from Rainey Boise, he’s more in touch with the community.

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