City Government

Firms Pay To Play With Cities

The GUARDIAN attended a joint meeting of the City Club of Boise and the Association of Idaho Cities Friday to hear national commentator David Gergen’s words of wisdom on the national political scene.

He said the usual stuff about the need for a national energy solution, solve the Iraq problem, and improve education…we cannot argue with any of that.

We found more significance in the maze of commercial booths one had to pass to get a seat. Engineering firms, real estate folks, drug testing companies and more paid big bucks to have their wares and services displayed to officials of nearly every city in Idaho.

You want to sell to a city, just pay the Association and you can have access.

Above Gergan’s podium was a 20 foot banner featuring ZIONS bank in bold letters. The bank paid for Gergen’s keynote address, but more importantly they are one of the big financial players in municipal finance.

They have been active behind the scenes trying to find ways to loan money to cities without the citizen’s having a vote in long term debt. The bank–along with others–has long been profiting from multi-year debt agreements disguised as “LEASES.”

The Idaho Supreme Court has declared the practice illegal and the GUARDIAN editor has been active defending the constitution and allowing citizens to approve municipal debt as the law mandates.

We can’t afford to make the payoffs to cities through the Association, which lobbies on behalf of politicos to change the constitution…they never listen anyway.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. I am glad that they would never listen as I sincerely believe there are the cases of the small city or county needing and requiring lets say a piece of road building equipment costing a several hundred thousand dollars. From their meager little budgets they would never be able to pay for this in cash, although they would be able to afford an annual lease payment, which is the same as renting. To provide the needed maintenance to their roads or other infrastructure I believe that the ability to lease is a necessity.
    I do not believe the larger issue is black and white as there is agreement with you on the large ticket items like libraries and parking garages by the larger cities and counties that are just making and end run around the statutes and trying to use a like minded judge to do their dirty work.

  2. Idahokid–A LEASE financed by the bank is a multi year deal (example 5 yrs) and the city OWNS the item–it is a PURCHASE and the banks make interest. The city HAS to pay for the period of the lease. RENTING is an annual agreement with the vendor and the banks are out of the loop and don’t collect interest. It is the defference between renting a car at Hertz for a week vs getting hooked for 60 months at the Ford dealer for an Expedition you can’t afford to fill with gas.

    There is no problem if the city does an annual lease with no intent
    to own. The banks (and cities) want to lock in multiyear obligations for payments and not let the citizens vote on them.

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