City Government

Star Fire Commishes Resign Amid Tangled Financial Web

The entire Star Fire District board of commissioners has resigned today in the midst of a tangled financial web that is bound to rival that of the Nampa School District mess, although over fewer dollars.

Here is the official press release:

Commissioners Gunnar Howarth, John Miller and Jeff Sedivec of the Star Fire Joint Protection District—an independent jurisdiction comprised of commissioners elected by residents in Northwest Ada County and Northeast Canyon County—have respectfully submitted their resignations, effective March 8, 2013. Their resignations are an acknowledgement of the district’s need for State of Idaho intervention as prescribed by state law.

The Star Fire District suffers from budgeting errors, overspending, a lack of oversight, revenue shortfalls, and failure to comply with adopted policy. The commissioners’ resignations will trigger a provision in Idaho State Code which will require the Governor to appoint a new Commission for the Star Fire District.

Since June 2012, the fire district has been operating under a Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) with the Eagle Fire Protection District. Both parties have agreed to abandon the JPA due to the complexity of Star Fire District’s issues. The Eagle Fire District will provide provisional fire services for the next 180 days during which a new commission will be appointed by the Governor.

Howarth, Miller and Sedivec accept responsibility for not addressing the District’s current and complex issues. All three former commissioners remain committed to the District and will fully cooperate with the Governor’s office to ensure a timely resolution of the District’s issues.

The GUARDIAN will have more later, but when we began reporting yesterday, it was clear the commishes had violated the Idaho Constitution Article VIII, Sec. 3 prohibition against long term debt without voter approval.

Meanwhile HOUSE BILL 244 passed the Idaho legislature with unanimous approval yesterday and awaits action in the Senate. That measure, pushed through by Majority Leader Mike Moyle–a Star resident–is intended to allow for consolidation (with the Eagle District) of fire districts and all assets to become property of the new district. The purchases of a fire engine and station without voter approval will undoubtedly pose additional problems for the new district.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. I wondered why you pulled the article. Good thing for Google Reader.

  2. costaprettypenny
    Mar 8, 2013, 4:41 pm

    Finally someone is looking west of Boise’s city limits…Thanks Dave

  3. Just Wondering
    Mar 8, 2013, 7:36 pm

    I don’t get it and looking for an understanding from someone in the know. So what happens now? Are the commissioners just incompetent and running from the horrible mess they made? Is there no accountability or recourse? Is Eagle Fire District going to benefit and be gifted all of Star FD assets while the poor Star property owners shell out 700K (to Eagle)to pay off the debt these clowns left behind?

    EDITOR NOTE–In a nutshell, it is a mess. Idaho elected officials at all levels are pretty much immune from any “recourse” for ignoring the constitution or the Idaho Code as long as they don’t personally benefit. There’s nothing at this point to indicate the Star Commishes had bad intentions or personally gained from their actions. The constitutional prohibition against debt without voter approval is aimed at keeping things like this from happening.

    The FRAZIER DECISION by the Supreme Court affirmed the need to get voter approval for debt, but government and its attorneys do all they can to skirt the law. Unfortunately we see it with Ada County-Dynamis Scandal, the Nampa Schools budget mess, Boise County lawsuit over the troubled teen home, McCall and the sewer spending…the list goes on.

    (For those who don’t know, the GUARDIAN editor is the FRAZIER who prevailed in the case linked here)

  4. Just Wondering
    Mar 8, 2013, 8:17 pm

    Still thinking about this. Is there a possibility that Eagle FD will absorb all of Star FD assets for nothing and continue to be paid by the City of Star with property taxes received to manage and staff and yet leave Star property owners to pay the 700K debt for assets to be delivered to Eagle FD for no money? Naw, that would just be too sweet of a brother-in-law deal for Eagle.

  5. What amazes me is the persistence to have and financially support all the fire, school, highway and other districts. It would seem to me consolidation and elimination of all the administrative overhead would make sense. “Local control is just some 19th century thinking that won’t go away. Just think of all the administrative overhead that would go away not to mention all the snafu’s and bungling with public tax dollars. More people paying attention to what is going on in one large v. smaller and more districts makes sense to me.

  6. To: Just Wondering First, the EFD will not be paid by the City of Star and never have been. Both Fire Departments are there own individual taxing districts and the Star District under the former Joint Powers agreement contract only manpower from Eagle, the property belonged to Star opperated by Eagle employees “just like Boise contracts with North Ada County and Whitney Fire Districts. What the City of Star is thinking of doing is going to cost the citizens of star by creating there own department is only going to make them pay for something are they have already paid for. The City of Star lies within the Star Fire District. What the Eagle Fire District and the Firefighters are asking is to combine the two district into one,taking on Stars Debt, In my humble opinion is the best way to go. Five or so years ago a blue ribbon panel actually recommended this during the Paramedic battle between the City of Boise and ACEMS.

  7. DOC, You state that the City of Star is proposing to pay for something they already have paid for, yet according to reports the Star Fire District is almost $700,000 in debt. So apparently the Fire Fighters, Star Fire District, and Eagle Fire District have been enjoying the benefit of equipment and buildings that no one has paid for. You state that EFD and the Fire Fighters want to take on Star’s (district) debt. Seems to me that the EFD taxpayer is the one getting screwed in that deal while the Fire Fighters get to enjoy new equipment and the Star (district) taxpayer gets to get rid of their debt. It appears to me,in my humble opinion, that the only people who benefit from a consolidation are the Fire Fighters and the taxpayers get left holding the bag.

    EDITOR NOTE–There is also concern of Star CITY taxpayers getting hosed as well because they already are taxed by the DISTRICT and if they as CITY taxpayers pick up the debt it would be a double taxation.

  8. Great idea Flyhead

    Lets get rid of the all mayors the gov’s. and state legislatures then we can let the crooks in DC run things.

  9. Something Seems Fishy
    Mar 10, 2013, 9:52 am

    I have seen the press release where the fire commissioners accept responsibility, but I have yet to see any mention of the Star Fire District’s chief. Certainly they must have one. It would also seem to me he had a high level of culpability in this debacle. Come on chief show your face.

  10. Rod in SE Boise
    Mar 10, 2013, 1:26 pm

    One would have to assume, at this point, that FD assets (like fire trucks) in Star would continue to reside in Star and serve the residents of Star, even if they soon come under the management of the Eagle FD. So, that is kind of a straw isssue.

  11. Rod in SE Boise
    Mar 10, 2013, 1:30 pm

    There seem to be more scandals right here in Idaho with state and local governments than in the whole of the federal government. We settled for good the issue of states rights in 1865. My allegiance and loyalty are with America, not Idaho, Ada County, or the City of Boise.

  12. costaprettypenny
    Mar 10, 2013, 5:41 pm

    Actually,the Mayor needs a full time job and he thinks by adding a fire department he can justify being full time. Pretty lame but that’s what you get when the little City of Star has a million (plus) dollars of the taxpayers money and no one is looking!

  13. chicago sam
    Mar 10, 2013, 7:44 pm

    Auditors do cost money and it is much more expensive when nobody bothers to read the auditors report.

  14. We have incompetents at all levels of government, for sure. And I don’t mean people you don’t agree with. I mean people who are actually dumb. In my experience, it was most often people that you did not necessarily expect. Public image is often not reality. Anyhoo, the local level is special. We have tons and tons of local entities, from counties to cities to the various districts, with elected officials, boards, etc. The sheer number of dumbies on these boards and commissions and elected to office is stunning. I have dealt with elected officials who make my jaw drop with their dumbness. Seriously. It scares me. We most definitely need real teeth in the law to not only punish, but also to dissuade people from getting into these positions. I wouldn’t mind an IQ test, quite frankly. I am not looking for genuises or even college graduates, just people with a brain and some common sense.

    EDITOR NOTE–We have often said, “They aren’t bad people, they just need some supervision.”

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