An important–and overlooked–Ada County Commissioner campaign issue is the reluctance of the commission to uphold the Idaho constitution’s article VIII, sec 3 which requires a 2/3 vote of citizens for long term debt.
Two issues face the county at present and both are really STATE issues.
#1 The coroner has run out of space. The problem is Ada has deals with at least 25 counties to do their autopsies. The excuse to breathe life into the business of death is the fees charged to other counties help pay for forensic pathologists. It is obvious the extra bodies are forcing an expansion of the facilities.
We need a statewide office of MEDICAL EXAMINER. It is not the place of Ada to provide forensic investigators for the rest of the state.
#2 Ada jail is over capacity and “failing inspections.” Again the problem is failure of the state of Idaho to build adequate penal facilities. The Idaho Department of Corrections forces the crowding of the county jail by leaving convicted felons in the county jails. The state does not even pay the actual costs of housing state prisoners. Ada County shouldn’t subsidize the state.
Here’s where it gets complicated. Instead of going to the voters and seeking permission to go into debt for what they claim are needed facilities, the plan by the current commishes is to go around the mandate of a 2/3 vote with a scheme called “certificates of participation.” They are really bonds and are secured by future lease payments. They create an obligation of future elected bodies who would face foreclosure and loss of the public asset in the event of non-appropriation.
The Boise law firm of Hawley Troxel routinely sells the scheme to local governments in Idaho in their role as “bond counsel.” The idea is to eliminate any chance of voters turning down the long term debt. In short, the local politicos don’t trust the voters.
In the case of the Ada coroner, they plan to launder the financing through the IDAHO HEALTH FACILITIES AUTHORITY which legally can issue bonds and lease the facility back to the county. It is questionable whether or not the agency has authority to claim “health” when it comes to dead bodies.
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