In a history making decision Thursday the Idaho Supreme Court ruled against Boise City’s attempt to go around the voters to finance a parking garage at the airport.
The crux of the argument was whether or not the proposed expense was “ordinary and necessary.” The court noted that parking at the airport may be an important goal, but it was not sufficient to warrant an emergency expenditure that would exempt the city from first seeking voter approval.
Blaine County is currently embroiled in a lawsuit over the issue of getting “judicial confirmation” instead of voter approval for a proposed sheriff’s office and 911 center. This supreme court decision means they just lost their battle.
For many years it was Boise City policy to circumvent the voters. They lost on the issue of a new police headquarters three years ago, but forged ahead on with plans for a new airport parking garage without voter consent.
GUARDIAN editor David R. Frazier filed the suit against the city on the police building case and then again on the parking garage. He issued the following statement.
“I am gratified the SUPREME COURT has explained the constitution and the laws of Idaho to Boise City officials.
The issue is not the need for an airport parking garage–the issue is allowing the citizens to have a voice in how their public money is being spent. It is an absolute right of the citizens to approve expenditures for these long term debts, be they for fire stations, libraries, convention centers, police headquarters or parking facilities.
This landmark decision is a victory for citizen-voters throughout the State of Idaho. Since this is a Supreme Court ruling it applies to every city and county government in Idaho.
The practice of having a judge make decisions the constitution says the people must approve was standard policy during the era of the previous Mayor and City Council.
Mayor Dave Bieter and this Council had continued the practice with the parking garage– despite pleas I made at public hearings to simply allow citizens the voice they are guaranteed by the Idaho Constitution.
They refused to allow a citizen bond vote on the Airport Parking Garage, saying it is time for a supreme court decision. That decision has been rendered and these officials have cost Boise citizens a bundle of cash in legal fees and delayed the construction of a parking garage they claim was badly needed. They could have had it well underway by now had they merely followed the law and held a bond election.
Citizens throughout Idaho can now be assured major local construction projects will be financed more honestly by local governments in the future with bond elections to approve the expenditures.”
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