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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