Wednesday, January 14, 2009
THE GUARDIAN read with interest Mayor Nancolas' State of the City Address summary in the local papers. Mayor Nancolas has consistently over promised and under delivered on substance of his speeches. The Mayor does a great job of making us all feel good but where is all of this going without benefit of a defined plan and cash to carry out any plan that may be waiting in the wings?
We continue forward without a defined plan for downtown despite having spent over $300,000 on various planning efforts over the years. The need for a new city hall (aka Catalyst Project) is questionable given everyone already has office space. TVCC is another questionable "want" given the state of enrollments at the College of Western Idaho and other higher education and post secondary facilities in the valley. CWI is nowhere near their expected enrollment for the spring 2009 semester.
Has anyone asked the taxpayers of Caldwell if they want to fund yet another community college and be double taxed for this? Have any citizen commission studies been done to certify the need for this expansion effort? The only known about this is the TVCC building plan was hatched by our Urban Renewal board and the ground breaking ceremony out at Sky Ranch. Are we now on plan "B" with the shift to downtown Caldwell as the new site of choice. How was this decision made and who were the players? Where is the COMMUNITY CONSENSUS BUILDING with this effort?
A unilateral move by the Mayor and Urban Renewal Director mirror the GAZEBO snafu we had last spring. The Mayor assured everyone "this would never happen again". Here we are in a new year and the latest end run around the public process is the TVCC project for downtown. We were promised a CONSENSUS BUILDING effort out of city hall on projects funded by tax dollars. This simply has not been the case once again.
THE GUARDIAN noted the statement at the end of the article in the local paper the levy rate would not increase due to this financial boondoggle. Reason is Urban Renewal is not a part of the city but they siphon off $6 million a year from the property tax base. Their levy rate is the same as the city levy rate. It is called ..hide the ball, three card Monty or any other con game.
Where is the MASTER PLAN FOR DOWNTOWN? The last decent example of a formal plan is the Leland Report costing $140,000. It got relegated to the heap of other studies and reports. We have been living in artificial reality and are now in a economic crisis with failing economy and falling tax revenues, Team Garret and his crew can't seem to understand what that means to the average worker and taxpayer. One in fifteen workers in Idaho is now unemployed.
They really don't care because property taxes can't be avoided by property owners without dire consequences to their property ownership rights. Housing is imploding and the financial journals abound predicting the commercial sector will be the next real estate sector to go down in flames.
Our elected politicos need to follow the example of Governor Butch Otter and pull in their horns and stop all wasteful spending. The "ARTIFICIAL REALITY" we have been living in for the past decade has evaporated. Governor Otter seems to understand this new financial reality and has outlined a harsh new future for Idaho in his State of the State address this week.
New buildings are great. However, they are not free. Urban Renewal is once again proving itself to be an abusive mechanism to get around voters. Transparency and openness with Urban Renewal is nearly non existent. Minutes of meetings are not publish nor are they posted on the city website.
Forbes Magazine just named Boise (and by association this entire valley) one of the 25 weakest housing markets in the United States. Check out the article in the Idaho Business Review online. We need a serious attitude adjustment in our thinking about spending and tax spending now that all the growth has vanished. We are broke and the elected politicos have yet to figure this out. Mr. Otter figured this out last summer.
Last comment is the Veterans Administration building noted in the paper today will not be a "hospital". They may build a outpatient clinic at some point in the future. Don't know who got it wrong but a hospital is not the correct language.
We can all hope the current parking regulations take into account the need for an abundance of handicap parking when the VA clinic site is finally selected. Our Veterans deserve this consideration due to the above average levels of mobility impaired veterans. VA clinics and hospitals do not have nearly enough handicap parking spaces. Walkers, wheelchairs and crutches are used by this group much more than you would normally expect. Current parking schedules do not reflect this need.
Posted by Paul Alldredge at 10:28 AM