City Government

City Defeats Voters Prior To Bond Election, “Cash or Credit?”

The politicos at Boise City have pulled off a brilliant strong arm move without voters even being aware they have lost the power of the purse.

See the story below for details, but here’s what it all means.

Following all the rules for “transparency,” the council has decided to spend upwards of $810 million for increased sewer treatment plants which will make more growth and population possible.

The November 2 bond election–according to BOISE CITY is simply a question of “cash or credit?” Citizens will have no voice at the polls to limit the scope of additional facilities. They only get to decide the payment method for purchases already determined by the council.

From the city website: What does my vote mean?
YES: Voting “YES” authorizes bond fund funding of up to $570 million and results in stable and predictable rate increases over 20 years (9.9% in 2022)

NO: Voting “NO” rejects bond funding, not the projects, and results in sharper upfront rate increases (up to 53% in 2022)
(emphasis added)

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Kent F goldthorpe
    Sep 30, 2021, 6:17 pm

    Amazing! Like magicians! Whatever growth results will be increasingly difficult for ACHD to mitigate, road wise. To add insult to injury we are likely to lose the safe routes to school funding in a few years because the vehicle registration fee statute will sunset.

  2. Heronner Mayor McCheese… er, McLean, and her tax-and-spend council are making Team Dave look like amateurs, when it comes to spending our money!

    I NEVER thought I’d look back wistfully on the Bieter years, but here we are.

    As a lifelong Boise resident, I watch with alarm as they are turning my hometown into a place much like the places that all our new residents are ESCAPING from! What’s wrong with this picture?

    I’d sure like to see some people in charge, who want to preserve what’s special about this place. Maybe it’s too late. Sigh…

  3. Chickenhawk
    Oct 1, 2021, 8:05 am

    “Miss me yet?” –Dave

  4. Perhaps, in the interest of growth paying for itself, these costs should be paid from impact fees paid by the construction of the new homes and businesses causing the increased demand.

    If under the infinite wisdom of our lawmakers that’s not allowed, city officials should have the foresight to be budgeting to pay out the $570 million as we go rather than borrow the money and pay nearly half-again as much in interest.

  5. Welcome to Capitalism 101: common costs, private profit. I mean, you did not think you are in N. Korea?

  6. What I know, I think
    Oct 1, 2021, 6:00 pm

    I believe impact fees are limited by law, but are still underutilized.

    Patrick Bagaent was the one who was really fighting for this water thing when budgets were passed.

    Like everything, they shoot for the moon, rather than plan. This should be done in increments.

  7. Boisean Since Forever
    Oct 1, 2021, 6:31 pm

    It is the same old story. Sweetheart deals to developers and large employers makes jobs, attracts people. More people mean property taxes and assessed value go sky high. The gov’t doesn’t even have to raise taxes to bring in more money, as everyone suddenly lives in a more expensive home. That means more to spent on pet projects and city growth. In the Bieter years they often used Seattle, Portland and Boise in the same sentence saying we were the “Big Three” of the northwest. Is that really what we want? I have no desire for Antifa-style “mostly peaceful” protests, people liberating stores of inventory with impunity, and large sections of town where thd police are not allowed to enter.

  8. Bonnie Krupp
    Oct 1, 2021, 8:17 pm

    This is a debacle waiting to happen. Steve Burgos who is director of public services has never developed a project this size before. The largest one he has overseen is a $60 million project now under construction.
    There are no designs or plans developed as the engineers in the Boise office are inexperienced, so there are no actual bids for the projects.
    What about our RIGHT TO VOTE ON BONDS. You still pay astronomical sewer bills so please understand your rates will increase 90%.
    We need to stop this so we can vote yes or no. The city is unprepared to commence these projects and we shouldn’t have to be subject to their fiscal impropriety.
    We need a lawyer for an injunction to prevent it coming up in November.

  9. chicago sam
    Oct 1, 2021, 9:29 pm

    Just take a look at Idaho Code 67-8203, 24 (b)

  10. The bond should only be to vote on the costs for the replacement and repair of existing facilities.

    Any expansion of the system should come from impact fees – so growth pays for itself. But Boise’s elected public servants have been weak on impact fees by only having a park impact fee for years, then finally adding fire and police impact fees in 2008. Nothing to cover water issues.

    Boise needs to use Idaho’s impact fee statute to enact an ordinance addressing impact fees for (a) and (b) as shown below in the law, otherwise growth is not paying for itself. In addition, the large planned community areas that will be built in the SW and SE Area of City Impact should have a Community Infrastructure District to cover the infrastructure costs of growth.

    Idaho Development Impact Fee Act (I.C. 67-82)
    (24) “Public facilities” means:
    (a) Water supply production, treatment, storage and distribution facilities;
    (b) Wastewater collection, treatment and disposal facilities;
    (c) Roads, streets and bridges, including rights-of-way, traffic signals, landscaping and any local components of state or federal highways;
    (d) Storm water collection, retention, detention, treatment and disposal facilities, flood control facilities, and bank and shore protection and enhancement improvements;
    (e) Parks, open space and recreation areas, and related capital improvements; and
    (f) Public safety facilities, including law enforcement, fire, emergency medical and rescue and street lighting facilities.

  11. Fiscally Irresponsible
    Oct 1, 2021, 9:47 pm

    Able to stuff $52.8 million under the mattress for a mega-library palace but not able to plan and save for the repair and replacement of critical infrastructure is simply fiscally irresponsible.

  12. Is this true?
    Oct 2, 2021, 12:14 am

    So, they’re gonna pump the poop (and chemicals and pharmaceuticals) down into the aquifer where most of our drinking water comes from? It’s so stupid they will likely do it. What good is an engineer if not brainstorming something stupid and expensive. Boise has famously clean water so why not mess that up too.

    These are likely conservative cost numbers not accounting for the certain overruns to come from not even have an actual plan yet.

    Goldthorpe, why is it every time you guys pave a new street the sewer people dig a trench down the middle shortly thereafter? I’m thinking they don’t like getting mud on their new city vehicles so they wait until the street is paved.

  13. Over the years the city of Boise bought independent sewer districts and immediately raised rates to these new customers. BECAUSE OUR ELECTED PUBLIC SERVANTS COULD. I don’t know if there are any independent sewer districts left in the city.
    Our public servants have been working towards meeting federal guidelines for years! I think to the point of buying property outside of the city to meet guidelines of the feds.
    Now, have our public servants changed their direction? Maybe so.
    Was the change to save money for their constituents or take care of THEIR lobbyists.
    I believe we have unqualified public servants at every level. City,county & state.

  14. It would much more appropriate if the Guardian continued to make it clear- these are REVENUE BONDS. USERS will pay- now or later.

    Has very little to do with the current mayor. The work has to be done one way or another. Not much of an option.

    If there is any beef with the city, it ought to be ‘you were not charging me enough in the past to create savings to redo the water treatment plant.’
    It is what it is.

    Anyone with an old house in Boise knows they might have to dig up their sewer line due to tree roots. Savings for that? “Growth” of your trees will cost money too. Got savings?

  15. This comes up in November. Regardless of who or what they say, with regard to existing politicos, move them along to their higher ground where they need to work. Big changes coming. Big changes coming.

  16. Pat Freeman
    Oct 4, 2021, 10:49 pm

    I’m puzzled about kent F goldyhorpe’s connection of sewer and vehicle registration fees. Huh?

    EDITOR NOTE–If more sewer capcity is built with the bond money, it will mean more subdivisions and hence more traffic demanding more roads. It all boils down to growth.

  17. Pat Freeman
    Oct 5, 2021, 10:43 am

    So, that’s the job/role of ACHD isn’t it? Golly, was their official position 40 years ago?

    Increasingly difficult for ACHD?

    Good to know. When is the next ACHD election?

    EDITOR NOTE–Similar issue with West Ada Schools. More people equals more demand for schools. It is so bad in the district that it is becoming difficult to keep board members. They toss up their hands and quit out of frustration.

  18. Pat Freeman
    Oct 5, 2021, 3:38 pm

    When was the last time a West Ada Board member quit, PRIOR TO COVID?
    Not even comparable.

    EDITOR NOTE–Chairman and a board member have quit in past year.

  19. Pat Freeman
    Oct 5, 2021, 5:46 pm

    Editor, The W Ada school issue is due to the contentious PARENTS regarding covid and masks. It is not because of more demand for schools.
    I am on a septic and a well. Why should I care about the sewer bond? Voting YES
    just in case I get annexed in the future.

  20. Frank – the bond ordinance says the West Boise Sewer District is independent and will not vote on this.

    More financial facts from the bond ordinance:

    Historically, the average annual capital investment has been approximately $20 million. Moving forward, the average annual capital investment will be roughly $80 million, with the 20-year Capital Plan showing $1.59 billion.

    The total existing indebtedness, including interest accrued as of November 2, 2021, of the City is $92,461,534.67. The total existing indebtedness of the water renewal fund, including interest accrued as of November 2, 2021, is $1,787,886.72.

    This bond will add $570,000,000 in principal and $245,104,000 in interest, to be paid from the revenue derived from each rate payer.

  21. It's all about you Pat
    Oct 5, 2021, 9:33 pm

    I appreciate the editor making this platform available to any and all. Disappointing how many so called Americans would like to squelch the voice of those they disagree with. Old Moscow would be so proud of how deeply their dystopian concepts have penetrated in America.

    All you got to do is say “I disagree” and perhaps show why. No need for huff and puff contemptuous hissyfits.

    Facebook testimony interesting in how the newsfeed algorithms decide for us. Happy the guardian still has human at the switch.

  22. Off to a rocky start on . . . City records show there is also a Federal loan related to the sewer project (water renewal). A letter dated July 7, 2021 (RES-302-21) requested a waiver to the purchasing regulations to contract for professional services because the initial phase of the Federal funding program was due on July 23, 2021. Someone must have dropped the ball on this one, as the letter emphasizes the urgency of the timeframe they are under. A full RFP process for the water renewal bonds did not happen, and the City quickly moved to hire Piper Sandler & Co. to handle this task and the preparation for the bond election, which they will receive up to $85,000 for each bond issued.

  23. Judicial Confirmation
    Oct 5, 2021, 10:47 pm

    One of the city’s slide presentations on the sewer/water renewal included a bullet point for the issue of Judicial confirmation when using debt financing (bonds).

    • Standard that projects must be “ordinary, necessary and urgent”

    We know the BG Editor is very familiar with this issue regarding the airport garage years ago. Having existing citizens pay the cost to expand the capacity so that the developers/investors can continue to profit could possibly fail the test of “necessary and urgent”?

  24. western guy
    Oct 8, 2021, 4:46 pm

    How about The City respond to the ‘dropped RFP process’, mentioned above.

    Remember how this process ‘flows’: the biomass (‘turds’) flows with the liquids (‘urine’) to the water renewal facilities (‘sewage treatment plants’), where the biomass is separated from the liquids and pumped south of town to Twenty Mile Farm, while the liquids go into the Boise River. The folks downstream can then have their drinking water.

    How does the City Citizen Outreach staff explain that in the bond propaganda?

  25. $$$ You touched on my point that WE have unqualified Public Servants! Hence the hiring of Piper Sandler & Co. to handle this task and the preparation for the bond election, which they will receive up to $85,000 for each bond issued. GOOD REASON NOT TO VOTE INCUMBENTS BACK INTO OFFICE!

  26. western guy
    Oct 22, 2021, 9:30 am


    Private businesses routinely hire outside consultants/counsel when floating stock offerings or other financial vehicles similar to bonds.

    Having full-time staff who are current in bonds or stock offerings would be a waste of organizational resources.

    Better to use the $$ for ‘community engagement’ purposes. ha!

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