Two days after the city annexed an additional 1.5 square miles–increasing the need to provide services–and only a week or so after announcing a joint agreement with emergency service providers, plans are afoot to go into debt to buy $34,000,000 worth of “infrastructure” improvements and expansions for police, fire, and parks.
The good news is Boise City has to seek permission of citizens to spend the cash.
The way the GUARDIAN sees it, Boise City government is unable to live within its means. Each year while other local governments have cut spending and forgone the allowable budget hikes, Boise city fathers and mothers have taken the maximum amount while continuing to annex rural areas adding to “urban sprawl.” Now they tell us fire stations are crumbling and more need to be built. Stations serving newly annexed areas have been built out of annual budgets which should have gone toward existing facilities.
The city provides fire service across an approximately 30 mile span from the Elmore county line on the east to the far reaches of Hidden Springs and Bogus Basin Road–well outside the city limits and expensive to cover. In some cases there is no local fire district and in some areas we provide contract service far superior to the tax rate paid to the rural district with whom Boise contracts.
While it would be nice to get a grant from the usual thinly veiled political group supporting things like a bond issue, the GUARDIAN will offer advice on how to pass the bond for free. Because more than half the proposed debt would go for police and fire, they need to do some more research prior to floating the bond.
FIRST–Separate the various components. Its unfair to link a fire training facility to open space or parks and vice versa. Also if voters oppose one item on the wish list, the dreams of others shouldn’t be ruined.
SECOND–Get other cities in the county to buy into a joint fire training facility…same is true for a police firing range. If we are going to rely on the nearest fire station to respond to an emergency, the responders should have mutual training and the citizens of ALL communities served should pay a fair price for such a training facility. Elimination of the rural fire contracts is a must. State law limits the taxing ability of the North Ada and Whitney Districts, but they get the same service as Boise City residents who pay a much higher rate.
THIRD–Don’t attempt to deceive us. If calculations are correct claiming the “average homeowner will pay only $13 per year,” that means it will cost more than $260 over 20 years for every residence, more for businesses and above average houses. Just tell it like it is.
FOURTH–Before the election, go back and lower the requested amount. Voters overwhelmingly turned down a similar $38 million bond for a central library and two branches. The result: Team Dave sharpened their pencils and did what they should have done in the beginning: They found vacant spots in strip malls and we ended up with three well used library branches serving the needs of the community and it was all done with NO DEBT whatsoever.
Idaho’s constitution gives total authority to citizens when it comes to the public purse. The council has to ask our permission and 2/3 of those of us who vote have to approve. Bonds are difficult to pass and it is meant to be that way.
With so few people voting in local elections, we would gladly accept the same standard used for recall signature petitions–20% of the REGISTERED VOTERS would have to approve. There is nothing wrong with the 2/3 super majority requirement, especially since half the property in the city (non-resident and commercial owners) get no vote, but have to pay.
The full list follows:
PUBLIC SAFETY, PARKS & NATURAL AREAS PROJECT LIST
August 8, 2013
A. PUBLIC SAFETY
1. FIRE TRAINING FACILITY
Construction of a new training facility to meet the National Fire Protection Association’s
minimum standards for training new firefighters. The new facility would be located on
existing city property near the City’s West Boise Wastewater treatment facility. Facility
would conform to current seismic, environmental and energy standards and would allow fire
fighters to be trained to handle modern building specifications.
2. FIRE STATION 4
Rebuild existing station on Ustick Road to allow the placement of a ladder truck, a critical
element of fire response that will greatly expand the fire response capabilities in this highly
populated area. Original station built in 1972.
REPLACEMENT COST: $2,554,000
3. FIRE STATION 5
Rebuild existing downtown station at 16th Street to prevent further deterioration of the
building and to ensure high level of service as the city grows. Current facility was built in
1951 and is seismically unsafe and ten years past its useful life. This station gets more calls
than any other station in Idaho and is the oldest active station in Boise.
4. FIRE STATION 8
Relocation of this station (currently at Overland and Roosevelt Street) to improve response
coverage on the Central Bench and at Boise State University. Existing station built in 1956.
REPLACEMENT COST: $3,200,000.
5. FIRE STATION 9
Remodel existing station at State and Collister to bring it up to seismic, ADA and fire
standards and improve overall readiness. Built in 1975, the station does not meet building
safety requirements, lacking both fire suppression equipment and the alarm system required
by city code.
(PAGE 2 – PUBLIC SAFETY, PARKS & NATURAL AREAS PROJECT LIST)
6. CENTRAL DISTRICT POLICE STATION
Currently all police officers have to report to City Hall West at the western edge of the city
before going on duty. The Central District station would increase the accessibility of
community oriented police services and ensure safety in the rapidly growing downtown core.
COST: $1,950,000 (which will be added to the available $1,950,000 in million in impact fees
for a total project cost of $3,900,000)
TOTAL PUBLIC SAFETY COST: $18,354,000
B. OPEN SPACE
The $10 million Foothills Serial levy passed in 2001 has been leveraged to preserve over
10,763 acres of open space valued at over $37.4 million. The city’s proposal would add an
additional $10 million dollars to replenish the open space fund and allow for the purchase of
more natural areas in the Boise Foothills and other parts of the City, linking critical trail
networks, preserving wildlife habitat and protecting the delicate Boise water shed.
TOTAL OPEN SPACE COST: $10,000,000
1. LIBERTY PARK
520 N. Liberty Street, off Emerald St. near St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center
Develop an additional 2.5 acres of the park and add amenities including little league and
other sports facilities, picnic shelters and restrooms.
2. FRANKLIN PARK
Franklin & Orchard streets
Development of a three acre parcel, pending acquisition from the Boise School District, to
be used as a neighborhood park for this densely populated area that currently does not meet
city standards for neighborhood parks.
3. BORAH PARK
801 S. Aurora Drive, near Borah High School
Develop four acres of additional park space and add amenities including volleyball court,
pathways, open-play fields and a dog-off-leash area.
(PAGE 3 – PUBLIC SAFETY, PARKS & NATURAL AREAS PROJECT LIST)
4. MILWAUKEE PARK
3950 N. Milwaukee Street, near Capital High School
Addition of amenities to the existing park including a picnic shelter, restroom, playground,
basketball court and facilities to better accommodate youth baseball games.
5. PINE GROVE PARK
8995 W. Shoup Drive, near Maple Grove and the Flying Wye
Development of a four-acre site in West Boise into a fully functional park. Amenities to
include picnic shelters, playground, restroom, basketball courts, improved dog park and
6. STERLING PARK
9851 W Irving St., off Fairview between Maple Grove and Five Mile roads
Develop an eight acre property in West Boise into a fully functional park. Amenities would
include picnic shelter, playground, tennis court, basketball court, improved dog park, and a
water spray pad feature.
PARKS TOTAL: $5,477,975
TOTAL BOND COST: $33,831,975
AVERAGE HOMEOWNER COST: Approximately $13/year
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