The following information is in regards to the “water renewal” (sewer) bond financing scheme on the November 2 Boise City ballot.
By ERIKA BENSON
What most voters will not know is there are other Federal funding sources that can pay for a lot of this, but Boise is going to use these monies to expand government while simultaneously allowing the citizens to subsidize even more growth. I have attached a document I put together that combines info. from your BG articles with additional content from city records, with the key points being the following:
There are three (3) buckets of Federal money that could be usedto help pay for the sewer and water renewal projects in the City’s Water Renewal Utility Plan, but only the first one below is in the City’s record to help cover the costs:
1) Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA)
Provides long–term, low cost fixed interest rate loans to finance up to 49% of a project.
The current round of funding through the EPA includes $6.5 billion.
The City has submitted an initial application under the recent July 23, 2021 deadline.
2) American Rescue Plan Act
Boise is receiving $36.9 million of the $1.9 trillion from the American Rescue Plan Act.
Funds can be used for necessary water and sewer infrastructure projects.
Boise website shows the City has already selected the following categories* to spend these funds on: Housing, Mental Health, Food Security, Small Business Support, and Childcare.
* The separate $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act will have provisions to cover many of the same categories Boise is listing on its website for the American Rescue Plan funds.
3) Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684)
$1 trillion in Federal funding to improve and modernize the nation’s infrastructure is currently making its way through the legislative approval process.
$55 billion of this amount is allocated for clean drinking water.
$50 billion is specifically allocated for western water infrastructure and making systems more resilient to climate impacts.
A “Yes” Vote
Since the bond language does not specify which sources of funds will apply to replacing existing infrastructure versus funding the cost of expansion, the voter cannot know if a “yes” vote may be simply covering the cost of expansion to support more growth, while the WIFIA funds will be used to cover the cost of replacements to the existing system.
Does the voter understand that a “yes” vote will simply enable the developers and investors to not bear the costs by having the City avoid enacting water and sewer impact fees, or implementing a Community Infrastructure District?
A “No” Vote
Language in the City’s record and the ordinance says “up to 53%” – – which can mean this rate is not the final rate that would be implemented if this bond does not pass. In addition, the letter from the City’s legal department for the bond ordinance states the City Council has discretion on how to implement these increases and will decide in November whether to implement the entire amount in 2022, or potentially consider other rate increase alternatives.
A “no” vote will place pressure on the elected public servants to utilize other funding sources before resorting to large rate increases.
MORE DETAILS Election – Sewer Bond Topic
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