PART TWO OF ANALYSIS OF THE Nov. 5 BOND PROPOSAL
Boise Mayor Dave Bieter has convinced the City Council the city needs a $24 million loan to be repaid by property owners for the purpose of fixing up existing fire department facilities and constructing new projects.
He seems to have forgotten to sell it to those of us who are being asked to repay the financial bailout. We term the bond a bailout because new stations have been built to accommodate annexations while existing stations have apparently been put on the back burner for maintenance and repairs.
Here is what he is telling citizens about the bond request:
“To construct and equip a new fire training facility to meet minimum national standards, improve existing fire stations, as well as construct and equip new fire stations to reduce emergency response service gaps and to enhance neighborhood safety.”
This language is just too “loosey-goosey.” How many stations? Why not a joint training facility with other departments? Is Boise FD currently below “minimum national standards.” Whose standards and have they been increased or has the Chief allowed the department to fall behind?
There isn’t a bank in the country that would make such an open ended private loan for something as vague as “construct a new house, improve an existing house and save energy.”
Nope. Bankers want to know where and when it will be built, why the structure is needed and a whole lot more. Team Dave is telling citizens, “We want new stuff for the fire department. You pay the $24 million debt and we politicos will take care of what we want to build.
This bond has become necessary because the Mayor, Council, Chief, and budget advisors have constructed new stations out of annual revenues while ignoring existing assets. Now they want us to bail them out. There has been no move toward a joint training facility with the likes of Meridian, Eagle, Kuna, and Star.
To his credit, Chief Dennis Doan has recently entered into some joint agreements with regard to medical responses and “mutual aid.” That same effort needs to go into a joint training facility for firefighters to be funded by all the players and not just on the backs of Boise taxpayers.
The North Ada County Fire and Rescue district has not lived up to its obligation to provide three stations and equipment when Boise took over their manpower and fire responses.
The Whitney department–according to Council Candidate Paul Fortin–has a chief making over $62,000 a year, a department car and NO FIREFIGHTERS! Under the Boise contract, Whitney gets more and better service for less than they charge their patrons.
This bond and the one for parks total $51,000,000 of debt to be repaid solely by property owners. ALL citizens can vote, but only those who own property pay. It takes a two-thirds majority to approve the debt which serves as a “safety net.” Since none of the commercial property or property owned by non-residents of the city is represented, the two-thirds requirement tends to level the playing field.
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