Like the “unknown Democrat” who responds to the President’s Saturday radio address, the GUARDIAN is compelled to put Mayor Dave Bieter’s “state of the city” speech in perspective.
You have to realize this cheerleading session is sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and the mayor raises a gross sum of about $30,000 so businesses can lobby government to make sure they get the best breaks, tax or otherwise. Neighborhood groups and private citizens don’t have that access. The city also donates some of your tax dollars to the Chamber as well.
–Bieter brags that he has replaced 7 of 11 department heads. He has and that may be good news. We know of at least one of those remaining four who may be skating on thin ice.
–He put more cops on the streets thanks to moves by Chief Mike Masterson who eliminated the expensive horse patrol and reassigned other officers. Good news again.
–He touts a “neighborhood reinvestment program” which puts $400,000 toward sidewalks, parks and other amenities. BIG DEAL! That money belongs to the taxpayers to begin with. He didn’t mention the city foregoes 10 times that amount, $4 million in taxes, dedicated to the CCDC so they can continue to subsidize commercial development in the downtown. NO taxes on downtown improvements or construction goes to Boise City. Deceptive bad news.
–City authorized $5.2 million worth of industrial revenue bonds for Western Trailers 20,000 square foot plant. Apparently the company couldn’t make it without public assistance. Bieter told the crowd he was a former employee of the company. If they are already in business we want them to survive, but not on the backs of taxpayer’s line of credit. They like the new jobs, but that means more demand on government services and there is no requirement for them to pay taxes in the city where they work. Good news, bad news.
–Bieter takes credit for a 300 job expansion of the downtown Meadow Gold Dairy–where most of our milk is bottled regardless of brand. He also cites success in attracting other commercial entities due to city’s good treatment of business. Good spin, but as much bad news as good depending on your perspective.
–Big praise for BoDo, the new megaplex at Capitol and Front that causes the traffic squeeze. The place will be a huge drain on city resources for police, fire, parking etc. They pay no taxes to the city (CCDC gets all but school portion) and despite the $60 million investment, we see it as parking and traffic hell–especially with 8 movie screens. Not just bad news, a hurricane warning!
–Toss in some kid programs with cute acronyms sprinkled with terms like “partnership, leadership, leverage resources, phase one, expertise, developing, designing, initiative and you can’t miss. Good news even if we can’t understand it. It just SOUNDS good.
–Bieter talks of “neighborhoods by design” and a need to increase density. He even tossed a bone to critics by agreeing to abide by existing density regulations and curtailing the 20% bonus in density the city has been passing out. All this is aimed at slowing urban sprawl caused by people seeking more open space. Simply doesn’t compute. If the city wants to stop sprawl, why continue to extend sewers and annex out in the hinterlands? More bad news.
Overall we are amazed at the things Bieter and staff see as accomplishments. Many are nothing more than “puff” and others are simply not things the city should be doing. He really isn’t a bad guy, but he sure needs some direction.
The big question is, with all this rapid and massive growth, why is the city using citizen taxpayer money to attract even more people to Boise along with their kids, cars, and inflationary checkbooks? Natural growth is fine, but all these steroid injections will make you weird.
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