City Government

Boise Lives Beyond Its Means, Bieter To Ask For $34M Bond Debt

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.
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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:
August 8, 2013
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.
COST: $6,850,000
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.
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.
COST: $2,500,000
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.
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.
COST: $1,300,000.
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)
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.
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.
COST: $835,000
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.
COST: $760,000
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.
COST: $525,000
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.
COST: $335,000
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
COST: $1,129,339
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.
COST: $1,893,636
PARKS TOTAL: $5,477,975
TOTAL BOND COST: $33,831,975
AVERAGE HOMEOWNER COST: Approximately $13/year

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Brian Vermillion
    Aug 9, 2013, 5:46 am

    You’re asking a lot when you expect Bieter and his minions to be honest with taxpayers. Unless and until taxpayers say no to Bieter, he will keep coming back for more.

  2. I do not fault the City for presenting this bond to the people. That is much better than the old Lease arrangements on the fire stations. I do agree that these should be separate questions on the ballot.

    The Bench/Mall area is definitely getting some park action.

    EDITOR NOTE–Clancy, We agree! But to make an informed vote, citizens need to hear more than just the “yes!” position of Team Dave.

  3. What was most ridiculous to me was a month or so ago an article in paper about the City wanting citizens to vote on what a $40-$50M bond should be spend on.

    We should not be taking on debt for a citizen wish list, debt should be used for critical infrastructure and basic services.

    We have enough parks, libraries and fire stations. If you want $50M in debt fine, get it to pay off higher interest debt the city might have and use the cash flow savings to advance pay on other debt.

  4. Team Dave using Team Obama’s play book… and proud of it. ‘Destroying America One Day At A Time’ is their motto. Standby for Denver like liberal rules.

  5. Rod in SE Boise
    Aug 9, 2013, 11:53 am

    All that construction sounds like a jobs program. We do need to update the nation’s infrastructure (particularly roads and bridges), something the GOP/TeaParty congress in DC has been ignoring for years.

  6. If they upped it to $26 per year, could we have the downtown choo-choo train, too?

  7. Grumpy ole guy
    Aug 9, 2013, 9:39 pm

    Could not agree more that the ballot should be divided into the component parts so that we could have our say on at least each of the three service areas: Parks, Fire Service and Open Space Preservation. Although, frankly, I’d like some further division of the two former topics and would like to see greater inclusion than just the foothill area in open space preservation in the open space plan. Let the voices of the people be heard, it is the way of a democratic government. I’d also like to hear some REAL justification for each of the recommended areas of expenditure, not the usual glib gloss over of “age and condition”, but some – oh, say, facts, including insurance costs and the like. I’d like greater detail on the park use planning, too. Thought that the daily had a nice summary, but, more detail would have been appreciated.

  8. YET AGAIN Team Dave WANTS MORE MONEY!!!! More than we are already giving him TAXES.

    And he calls the stuff he wants “bread and butter” items!?!?!?!

    It is time for Mayor Dave to go on a diet and QUIT SPENDING!!!!!!!!!!

  9. I find all of this to really be the tip of the iceberg with the city.

    For instance the Boise Development Impact Fee Committee just last month asked to combine all of the zones for parks and rec into 1.

    The way it was originally intended was that they would set up zones throughout the city and anytime an impact fee was paid in that zone the proceeds would go to a project in that zone. The State Statute states that if that money is not spent in 7 years or less, it must be given back.

    They are running out of projects, so instead of giving those monies back to people that paid with the understanding that their money was going to their area for a park, now the Boise Development Impact Fee Committee wants to combine all of the zones and make it one, even worse on previously collected money. So if an impact fee is collected in southeast Boise, the city can build a park in north west Boise.

    There is also a pot full of money that was just waiting to be spent in their zones that they are now making one zone. How much money are we talking about? Is that number in their parks and rec number? If not what is the true bill for parks and rec.

    This is only on the parks side of things. I would be willing to bet a few of these slide tricks are going on in fire, wilderness, police.

    Once again Boise has proven how King Beiter gets his way.

  10. Someone should ask basic question. Where did Boise spend the money they have collected over the years from impact fees? They charges fees for parks, fire, etc. If the impact fees were set aside for these improvements, there is no requirement for a bond.

    EDITOR NOTE–Murphy, the first lesson for growthophobes is: “Growth does not pay its way.”

  11. I would like to know how they determined it would only by $13 a year. If it is property taxes what was the value of the property they used for this estimate???

    EDITOR NOTE–We have no beef with the math. They used an average of about $185,000 for assessed value. However, there will be tons of hidden costs for extra staff, new furnishings, computers etc. The bond is supposed to be used only for capital improvements.

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