City of McCall Faces Bankruptcy

If you think growth pays for itself, talk to the 2,500 residents of McCall who will consider the option of bankruptcy for their city government at a town hall meeting Monday, May 14.

Residents of this once tiny Valley County community need to come up with $6 million pronto as part of a federal court-ordered judgment. Growth has run rampant over the past fifteen years with new shopping centers, hotels, airport expansion and recreational development.

The city got itself into a costly legal entanglement all in the name of growth.

In a nutshell, their sewer system was woefully inadequate for years as it dumped effluent into the North Fork of the Payette River and contributed the demise of millions of fish in Lake Cascade.

Federal and state environmental agencies ordered the city to discontinue discharging wastewater into the river. In the late 90’s the city finally got to work on the design and construction of a wastewater plant.

A legal wrangle with the contractor ensued over deadlines. The bonding company finished the construction project with another contractor and sued the city. The short version is McCall has pretty much lost every legal challenge in the U.S. Court of Idaho and the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals.

One of the issues to be discussed is the apparent conflict between the Federal Judge’s order to pay and the Idaho laws limiting taxing authority. The obvious solution will be voter approval of a $6 million long term debt. Without a bond, the specter of bankruptcy looms for the city and future growth will be doomed.

They now have to come up with a financial solution–it will cost property owners no matter how it is handled. Meanwhile the development community crows about a “vibrant economy” and of course lots of growth.

Growthophobia could pop up next week in McCall after the bad news is explained to residents.

Mayor Bill Robertson lays out the situation in a SEVEN PAGE LETTER to residents.
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Comments & Discussion

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  1. Clippityclop
    May 10, 2007, 12:21 pm

    City of Eagle, are you paying attention? You’re putting yourself exactly in the same position as McCall. The only public facility you offer is, maybe, a library card, and yet you want to more than double your population and probably triple your size by annexing massive planned communities in the foothills and extending your area of impact where you cannot possibly hope to provide services. Hopefully, the County will come to it’s senses and not give up jurisdiction over this land. I believe the Eagle City Council will be meeting this coming Monday to discuss their Comprehensive Plan for the north foothills and I hope as many Ada County/Eagle taxpayers show up as possible because guess what? You’ll likely be holding the bag for this plan when all is said and done.

  2. I do not know the technicalities of this case, but I don’t think growth initially had anything to do with this case. It was a environmental decision to improve water quality. I remember when the sewer was installed around the lake. But it does look silly, as that city should have more than enough money (tax dollars) to pay the bill with the growth that has taken place.

    Second, guess who was advising the City of McCall at that time as City Attorney? Dave Bieter.

    EDITOR NOTE–when the sewer plant sends dirty water downstream it isn’t because FEWER people are using the system. Record does NOT reflect that Bieter was involved.

  3. I totally agree with Clippityclop. This is what happens when a small group of people who have been running things for far too many years start having visions of grandeur. The Eagle council has a friend at the County in the form of former Eagle mayor Rick Yzaguirre. Guess that means they only need to strong arm one other commissioner to get whatever they want. I hope Tilman and Woods are against the Eagle land grab.

  4. The Guardian has left out some facts, either on purpose or ignorance. Was the city charging a hookup fee to new homes? If not, city officials have no one to blame but themselves.

    Hookup fees are used only for system expansions, not maintenance, and they’re only charged on new customers. Many cities use that method to keep pace with growth. In fact, it would be useful to have hookup fees for water and electricity as well, so they don’t have to keep raising rates to pay for capacity expansions and stringing power and water lines to new development.

    It’s misleading to hold this up as an example to show that growth doesn’t pay for itself. It’s an example of city officials not being good stewards of their quality of life or city’s financial solvency.

    EDITOR NOTE–Can’t speak to fees etc. NONE of the current office holders were involved with problems the former administration created. If you know facts we have omitted, please share them with our readers. The entire 7 page document from the city of McCall is attached. What do you know that we don’t?

  5. I’m just glad that I live in the City of Boise, where decisions like this are made at the Arid Club by overpaid city-sanctioned appointees whom have the direct input of Chamber ‘growth groupees’ and the developers they represent. I think ‘Ignorance’ is a little northwest of ‘Bliss’. I think ‘ignorance’ is ‘Boise Valley’! Unchecked growth is good! Downtown green areas and landscaped buildings are highly overrated anyway. Build to the curb, I always say! Make ‘infill’ work !!

  6. Just another example of what happens when the locals let the carpetbaggers hypnotize them with tails of derring do and riches beyond their wildest nocturnal emmissions.

    As the one carpenter ant, whose wings had just fallen off, said to the local wood ant, “See that bare and eroded hill over there that used to be a forest? WE did that and we’re DAMNED proud to be FROM there. We killed everything we could, crapped on what wouldn’t die, and starved ourselves out. Now we’re here to “improve” your forest. Hurry up and scoot over so we can get to work on your trees. My pals and relatives will be here shortly.” “Oh by the way, Your trails and measly trees really SUCK! Can you loan me some money? If you won’t give me money, why, why, We’ll just go somewhere else!” (Where is the DDT when you REALLY need it?)

    Emmett, you better take the high ground at the top of Freezeout SOON. If Eagle and Star get there first you’ll soon be forcefully reminded of what rolls down hill!

  7. Treva, you are mistaken about the county commissioner Rick Yzaguirre. If you actually knew what was going on in Eagle you would know that they were very unhappy with him because he did not side with them when it came down to the land grab between Star and Eagle. He was acting as he should because he no longer represents Eagle, he represents the county. I think your implications are way off here.

    Clippity is right, Eagle needs to take note but for a different reason. Eagle wants to start their own water company which is what McCall did with the sewer. The government needs to continue to let private entities operate these utilities. That is what they specialize in.

    I believe Clancy is also right here, growth cannot be the scapegoat for mismanagement. If that were true you could blame growth for the two guys that drove the Zamboni to Burger King. If we didn’t have all those danged ice skaters move here they would have never been tempted to drive that thing in the first place 🙂

  8. Thanks, Snoop, for correcting me with regard to Commish Yzaguirre. I think with the recent market changes in real estate perhaps the rapid growth here in Eagle will slow down for awhile. The quality of life has definitely deteriorated since we moved here from N. Boise several years ago.

    It will be interesting to see what happens to recently curbed and guttered new developments. I remember in the early 80’s when builders walked away from half finished houses and left the state leaving banks to scramble to get properties finished and on the market. I worked for a title company at that time and the foreclosure department was really busy. Lots of money was lost by many people.

  9. NotQuiteInTheKnow
    May 16, 2007, 4:28 pm

    I don’t see any discussion about the issue of City limits. It seems to me that a few years ago McCall wanted to annex in the houses on the north side of the lake. Those properties receive City services (including police) but pay no City taxes. As far as I know the (ex) Council declined to annex those homes, leaving the City to continue to provide services for owners who do not pay for those services. Why the Council chose that route is unknown – I’m sure there is a tangled web of local politics (including the local paper, which argued against annexation.) Someone please correct me if my rememberances are wrong, but the City seems to have done itself a great disservice, and now leaves itself with an even smaller base (who should have been paying all along) to rectify their current financial woes.

  10. It sounds like you have lived here long enough to see history repeating itself Treva. It makes me sick to see those homes littered across subdivisions unfinished. Especially from builders who shouldn’t have been in the market to begin with. It is just like to dot-com boom.

    Everybody thought they were a wise and all knowing investor, when in reality if you weren’t making money at that time something was definitely wrong with you. The same is true in the building industry the last few years.

    Everyone became a realtor, mortgage person, and builder. I have seen cell phone salesman calling themselves builders. I have seen just about every profession calling themselves a realtor. In a booming market anyone can prosper. The slow down is a good thing. It weeds out everyone that had no business in the market to begin whether they were local or from out of state.

  11. Guardian, I think Clancy is right on this one. McCall city council recoprds show that Bieter was the city attorney from at least January 2001 through at least June of 2001. (that is as far back as the council meetings go on the internet.)

    So it appears that our mayor was indeed involved in the whole mess.

    EDITOR NOTE–Cyclops, no problem if you have the research. I am often accused of being unfair to Team Dave and since the mainstreamers and mcCall press release didn’t implicate Bieter, I didn’t want to jump on board.

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