City Government

Pure Thoughts On Clear Water Issue

The following information is in regards to the “water renewal” (sewer) bond financing scheme on the November 2 Boise City ballot.

GUEST OPINION
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

Comments & Discussion

11 comments for “Pure Thoughts On Clear Water Issue”

  1. western guy
    Oct 14, 2021, 2:39 pm

    Excellent presentation by Ms. Benson. Why can’t the City budget, policy and ‘outreach’ gremlins (and the Mayor/Council team) make the same presentation, plus fill in the gaps Ms. Benson identifies?

    Oh, wait: There will be TWO mailings coming soon to a social media platform in your house (don’t forget the tried and true USPS) to explain (‘lobby in favor of’) the bond issue. Possibly Councilor Baggy can add his $0.02 to claim there has been ‘City outreach’ on this matter.

    Related, why is Boise City expanding for developers when the land is a bit cheaper just outside the City’s boundaries? I know: more dense housing… go up, not out!

  2. Lost me at this misleading opening: Boise is going to use these monies to expand government.

    Keeping up is not expanding.

  3. Easterner – Rather than allocate the funds from the American Rescue Plan to pay for water/sewer infrastructure, the 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.

    That is what I am referring to.

  4. Okay General, so?
    ARP money may have to be designated with federal strings attached. Those all seem pretty good funding recipients. And if ARP is allowed for infrastructure, why would any prudent financial mngr do that when other funds are available? People do this all the time in their personal lives- expect something different for local government?

    You want ARP for the sewer and then the city would not have funds for Housing, childcare, etc? And then no need to increase USER FEES as much? Is that the message?

    Reasonable, but it’s the same as every person spent their Stimulus Check on food so they can use their food budget to buy toys (?) – I have not heard of anyone refusing that free money (for those eligible).

    Clearly, the city (ies) and states, are and will be flush with federal money (just like if rffrom the past 2 years.
    I saw a student’s “account statement” with a payment applied to it for that person directly from Stimulus Money. smh!

  5. McClean is worse than Bieter
    Oct 15, 2021, 5:28 pm

    Why is the city getting into building housing, mental health, childcare, food security (what?) and small business support anyway?

    They should be concerned with public health and safety.

    You add in the $1.5 million and 22 employees in the department of community engaging in propaganda, along with at least one PR flack for every department and I guess you can bamboozle the public into anything, particularly if you never discuss anything.

    Here’s hoping we have three new council members who actually want to serve the public.

  6. Easterner:

    I meant to say ‘why is Boise increasing the size and scope of its government’ just to accomodate more residents? Why does Boise need more and denser housing within its boundaries?

    Replace sewer lines (maybe with a bit of additional capacity), but no need to accomodate the prison blocks that are being allowed to be built, especially in downtown. Are developers paying for the increased swewer and water needs, roads, schools, trash collection?

    EDITOR NOTE–Our point exactly. Even with subdivisions, use of the “community infrastructure district” puts the cost of expansion on future buyers. It is merely a tax limited to the development so the developer doesn’t have to pay up front. No sewer or water means no expansion.

  7. Something smells rotten in the City of Boise: the sewer bond. These people are really creative with the public money, many “bright minds” at work. This all is scheming that gets passed for the city planning.

  8. Most residents in the City of Boise thought the $100 million library proposed by elected public servants was a crock of S-it. Do you suppose this sewer bond is THEIR way of building IT?

    EDITOR NOTE–Sewer is an “enterprise fund” basically run as a business apart from the general fund budget. The bond would not “free up” money to be spent on something else.

  9. The ordinance for the bond does indicate that funding could come from city funds so this bond could potentially “free-up” money for other things? From section 5 . . . “The City anticipates that a portion of the cost of the Utility Plan may be defrayed by federal grants, grants from the State of Idaho, and/or City funds.”

  10. Any chance we could get the super rich people and businesses in Boise to fund the sewer project? Micron for example (and it’s top tier of pocket stuffers). As the number one user of our local nearly free to them fresh water and fresh young labor force could buy a sponsorship and we could hang their trademarks on the new sewer pump houses and treatment plants? Kinda like Amazon just did with nasty old Key Bank Arena in Seattle. Unless mistaken the stadium refurbishment was not paid for by the city.

  11. Today I witnessed a City Public Works vehicle, apparently visiting or working at the city sewer plant but not actually within the gate- personal or official?

    Anyway– the vehicle is a sweeeet, Jeep.
    A 4×4 Jeep.
    4 door Sahara Wrangler.
    A $50,000 vehicle!

    Is that cost really necessary for a city vehicle?

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