City Government

Boise Budget Grows 8 Times Faster Than Population

A big shout out to the STATESMAN and reporter Cynthia Sewell for once again doing lots of digging through census, budget, and other records prior to the annual Chamber of Commerce “Live Aid” speech Wednesday by the Mayor Dave Bieter which grosses up to $45,000 for the private special interest lobbying group.

We have been the squeaky wheel for so long about Team Dave shilling for the Chamber that we are nothing but annoying background noise. The GUARDIAN thinks the annual “state of the city speech” should be given either at a council meeting or as an opening act for the Food Bank, Idaho Youth Ranch, Women’s Shelter, or a Homeless group.

The DAILY notes Boise’s population has increased 11% in the past ten years, but the city budget has increased eight times as fast–a whopping 88% over the same period. With property values down and per capita income down, we find it hard to believe the city’s survey results which claims folks are happy with a city management that has consistantly increased its budget EVERY YEAR while other units of government are cutting back.

They listed the top 16 employers and the GUARDIAN notes at least 11 of them pay no taxes–nearly all are either schools, hospitals, or government agencies. Micron has been a “non-profit” for so many quarters we don’t think they pay much income tax either.

Meanwhile, here’s what they say about Boise Schools over the same time frame:

Boise School District’s annual budget is $187.4 million this year — up 8.9 percent from 2000. The district’s total enrollment decreased 4.4 percent in that time, to 25,317, and the number of certified teachers dropped 3.7 percent, to 1,420.

One figure the DAILY didn’t include in their piece was the increase in City spending for public relations, advertising, lobbyists, opinion polls, and graphics designers.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. “Boise’s population has increased 11% in the past ten years, but the city budget has increased eight times as fast–a whopping 88% over the same period.”

    As we used to say back in Vermont: Geezzum Crow!–much worse than I ever thought. 88%????

    But who or what will ever put the brakes on the rampant corruption in this state, not to ignore in this city?

    EDITOR NOTE–There are 4 council seats and a mayor post up for election in November.

  2. So? What’s wrong with that. Don’t you know about the newest accounting rules? This is all healthy normal needed spending for a vibrant up and coming city like Boise. It’s for the children!

  3. Boise City budget needs a good haircut. A reduction in number of employees, salary reductions and associated reductions benifits. Would there be something wrong with growth plus inflation? Does not appear to be any effiencies in the statistics reported, just bloat.

  4. Inside City Hall
    May 17, 2011, 5:20 pm

    Some of us “inside” have seen and warned of this for years. But no one seems to care or vote out those that create this situation.

    You get what you elect…and will continue to get the same. We warned you.

  5. Maybe we’ll see the fire union negotiations done in public view as the teachers are now required. Bet I can find some savings in that budget. According to the BFD budget, there are 266 full time employees at a cost of $34,058,000. That’s an average of $128,037 per year, pay and fringe, per employee of BFD. For an amazing 632 fires in 2009 according to the State Fire Marshall’s web page. Compare that to Boise PD at 408 full time employees at a cost of $38,222,00 for a cost of $93,681 per year, pay and fringe. Here is the attitude toward taxpayers.

    EDITOR NOTE–Latest “official” figures from the departments: BFD operating budget $40.5 million. 289 total employees, 251 firefighters, 18 day crew, 20 command and civilian. At the cop shop it is $48 million budget, 388 total staff, 310 sworn officers.

  6. I would be interested in finding out about how much of the 11% increase in Boise’s population came solely from annexation of already developed land, where the infrastructure, ie. roads, sewer, water, county police and fire services, schools, etc where already in place. Anyway to find that out Dave? They must have that data in one of their newly funded departments downtown.

  7. I was somewhat disturbed by another fact in Ms. Sewell’s excellent story: between 18,500 and 21,500 Boise residents work for the government in some capacity. (That’s combining city, county, state, fed, VA, BSU, etc., etc.)

    Granted, Boise is the hub of Big Government for the state and region, but just the same, that’s a lot of taxpayer-sponsored jobs! No wonder we’re suckin’ wind!

  8. “Rampant corruption” in Boise? Jeez! Isn’t this a bit rash? I find this all quite amusing and commend you for being the watchdog on local government spending. In the Twin Cities their is a plan to raise the booze tax in St Paul to fund a new Viking stadium that won’t benefit St. Paul. You would have a field day with that one.

  9. I wish more in the media would look at these numbers and raise a stink. Those comparisons between BFD and BPD’s budgets are amazing. I didn’t now BFD was that high, especially compared to total employees.

    Look, police protection and fire protection are two things (among others) that a city can not live without. Lots of the manpower requirements for BFD are mandated by federal quide lines, so keep that in mind too. But holy cow! I guess we know who the Mayor likes best, yeh? Actually, didn’t a battalion chief work for Beiter’s campaign? I think one of them did. Interesting.

    I wonder how much BPD’s budget has been slashed over the last few years compared to BFD or the school district’s budgets to get it down that low (compared to others)?

    That school district budget is amazing too. Enrollment is down 4.4% but that budget is up 8.9%? WTF? They don’t even pay for the cops in their schools either, so I’ve been told. That comes out of their $8M budget.

    EDITOR NOTE–Copper’s budget has skyrocketed too–up nearly $10,000,000 since 2005…mostly due to personnel costs and contractual obligations.

  10. I am by no means a defender of Team Dave. I have dealt with at least two of the many faces he has and came away damaged to be sure.

    However; when you criticize the budget over the last ten years, are you including the massive spike in costs related to fuel?

    In my own home, we know we are spending much more for almost everything than we were ten years ago.

    I know the city is not immune to this.

  11. Idastump you are missing the point. Yes…we have all been stung badly by increases in fuel and other “necessities”. But we’ve absorbed it while experiencing little to no revenue/income growth to offset. At least my paycheck (oh wait…the company I worked for folded so now I’m self employed) has not grown to match rising costs of living. But govmints don’t play by the real world rules – the levy special assessments or raise taxes to cover increase costs. You and I don’t have that luxury. They shoudln’t either.

  12. Editor, I must have misunderstood something. In Flatlander’s note, you indicate that BPD’s budget is $8M. But in your note to my comment you say BPD’s “budget has skyrocketed too, up nearly $10M” in the last 6 years.

    Can you clarify how big the current BPD budget is?

    EDITOR NOTE–Clumsy old finger missed a digit. BPD budget is $48 million. We fixed it in the other comment as well. Sorry for the confusion.

  13. We need the huge police force to bust the kids smoking pot and cigarettes to fill the coffers at the court house you idiots! God forbid a fire truck and ambulance don’t show up when a kid falls off a bike. Not to mention the possibility of terrorist attacks. You could be next!

  14. steve lewis
    May 19, 2011, 2:37 pm

    Thanks for the clarification. One needs to remember the city itself has gotten bigger over the last 10 years. Both population and geographically. Also, BPD absorbed the airport since 2000 and absorbed their budget requirements as well. The same can be said for BFD.

    But even though the city has gotten bigger, school enrollment as declined. That’s what is odd.

    But my question is still one to look into, if you have time. Which is, how much have budgets declined since 2009? That’s when the nation (and the state and city) really have gotten hammered by the recession, property declines and unemployment. Where has spending declined in the city and where has it increased in that time? That might be a better gauge of how the city (and this administration) is balancing its financial situation and priorities.

    EDITOR NOTE–Any way you cut it, the population has increased 11% and the cost has gone up 88%. Every year the city takes the maximum allowed budget increase. Today’s editorial in the STATESMAN indicates Team Dave was wrong about cuts–actually increased 15%.

  15. I think that a lot of folks moved west, still in the City but now in Meridian School District. The student populations in the smaller, in town schools has dwindled while the Meridian schools in west Boise have grown.

  16. “But even though the city has gotten bigger, school enrollment as declined. That’s what is odd.”

    Not odd at all if they were annexing already developed areas in and around the city. Check it out.

    EDITOR NOTE– Another factor not mentioned is parts of Boise CITY are within the Meridian SCHOOL district.

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