With a $38 million library bond election approaching, it is important to have some citizen input BEFORE the ballot is printed. The City Council is set to approve the ballot language Tuesday. It is confusing, lengthy, and full of loopholes. Take a look:
QUESTION: Shall the City of Boise City, Idaho, be authorized to issue and sell general obligation bonds, in one or more series, for the purpose of providing for the acquisition, construction, improvement and installation of three (3) neighborhood library/community center facilities to be located in West Boise, Southeast Boise and Northwest Boise, and such other furnishings, equipment, and other capital items and related improvements and costs incidental thereto, in an aggregate principal amount for all such bonds of no more than $38,000,000 payable from ad valorem taxes, over a term for each such series which may be less than but which shall not exceed thirty (30) years, as more fully provided in
IN FAVOR OF ISSUING BONDS UP TO THE
AMOUNT OF $38,000,000 FOR THE PURPOSES
STATED IN ORDINANCE NO. ________..
AGAINST ISSUING BONDS UP TO THE
AMOUNT OF $38,000,000 FOR THE PURPOSES
STATED IN ORDINANCE NO. ________.
INSTRUCTIONS TO VOTERS: To vote on the preceding question, make a cross (X), in the
space to the right of the words “IN FAVOR OF ISSUING BONDS UP TO THE AMOUNT OF
$38,000,000 FOR THE PURPOSES STATED IN ORDINANCE NO. ________” or “AGAINST
ISSUING BONDS UP TO THE AMOUNT OF $38,000,000 FOR THE PURPOSES STATED
IN ORDINANCE NO. ________”, according to the way you desire to vote on the question. All
marks otherwise made are forbidden.
The following information is required by §34-439, Idaho Code:
The total existing general obligation indebtedness of the City of Boise City is $0.00. The total existing other indebtedness, including interest accrued as of February 7, 2006, of the City of Boise City, is $111,444,695.73. The interest rate anticipated on the proposed general obligation bonds is five and 31/100 percent (5.31%). The range of anticipated rates is from four and 50/100 percent (4.50%) to six and 50/100 percent (6.50%). The total amount to be repaid over the life of the proposed general obligation bonds, based on the anticipated interest rate, is $74,580,031.25.
The reason the general obligation indebtedness is “0” is because the city hasn’t let citizens vote on a bond for 15 years and that one was turned down.
The GUARDIAN supports the election and even approval of the $38 million price tag. But if we give the City the money, they better deliver three libraries in a timely fashion!
Boise City does not have enough operating funds or the expertise to build three libraries simultaneously. However they want VOTER APPROVAL for three libraries up front and plan to “phase in” the other two over a three year period.
We think it is impossible to predict the costs of a new facility three years from now. At the 10% appreciation rate we have now, $10 million would cost close to $14 million in three years.
Mainstream media folks need to push the financial people hard on this one. Boise is asking for PERMISSION to build, but putting the merchandise on “LAYAWAY.” The GUARDIAN is concerned about the possibilities of using up a disproportionate amount of cash on the first building and coming up short on the next two–or at least the third one.
It is safer– and more honest–to tell us how much taxpayer funding is needed and DELIVER in a timely fashion. The phase-in plan is wrought with potential pitfalls. The principal has to be spent within two years and we fear a mad rush to acquire land, and spend money as the deadlines approach.
The next problem is that new council members are likely to be elected, leaving a previous council “obligating” the next one to follow up on financial decisions with which they may or may not agree. Easy to do when you can say, “the people voted for it.” The people MUST know WHAT they voted for.
For instance, former Brent Coles era councilors agreed to pay for a real estate deal struck in secret between two developers over the proposed library site at Bown Crossing on Park Center Blvd. The council met in secret and purchased the land, but didn’t have the cash and took it from the Parks Department budget. Now, whether citizens like it or not, that is a future library site.
Councilors and city staffers fear voters will reject the bond unless it promises something for everyone. We fear voters will smell a rat with a complex or vaguely worded ballot and reject it–as they should.
The GUARDIAN thinks the cleanest deal is to hold a bond election for a reduced amount, say $18 million, and build a single library brench at Cole and Ustick on the site previously purchased (in a secret deal between two developers and the council). When they are ready for the next phase, hold another election. Meridian Schools would be happy to give lessons.
To insure more advertising-free Boise Guardian news, please consider financial support.