Tracking code caldwell guardian

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Caldwell Urban Renewal in Landlord Loan Business

THE GUARDIAN has obtained a DEED OF TRUST that places Caldwell East Urban Renewal Agency as part legal owner in a large apartment complex near Walmart. The instrument is dated April 28th, 2003.

"the Caldwell East Urban Renewal Agency (the "CEURA"), a public body corporate and politic of the State of Idaho, having its principal office located at 621 Cleavland Blvd. Caldwell, Idaho 83606. or order the principal sum of One Hundred Fifty Thousand and 00/100 Dollars ($150,000) plus interest from the date and at at rate as established herein.

Principal and interest (at a rate of 0%) are payable in installments as follows:"

Bottom line is Mayor Nancolas and his urban renewal team issued an interest free loan to the developer of this project with property tax increment money diverted to urban renewal. Why is the city lending money in this manner?

Caldwell Urban Renewal Spends Your Property Taxes

THE GUARDIAN is submitting the following Caldwell Urban Renewal expenditures for your review:

Mayor Nancolas received $880.00 for a fully funded family membership to the Caldwell YMCA in 2005

Three members of the Caldwell Urban Renewal board received 1/2 memberships to the Caldwell YMCA this year.

Urban Renewal funded Wellness programs at the JR Simplot Companies. Urban Renewal put up $75,000 and the JR Simplot Companies got $22,500 in two payments.

The following items came from April 2009 CEURA minutes:

"Mayor Nancolas presented a request from the College of Idaho for funding assistance in the track improvements at Caldwell High School in the amount of $75,000 for two years. This commitment will replace the current two year commitment with the YMCA which has been fulfilled. Motion to endorse and support the commitment of $75,000 for two years, contingent upon the other funding partners for the track coming through, and reflect this commitment in the budget: Hopper/Fouts M/S/P "

"Bruce Schultz, TVCC, presented a funding request in the amount of $297,575 to address the projected enrollment growth during 2009-2010. The request specifically identifies facility improvements to their existing space at the Mercado Building and off-site classroom lease, along with student support costs in the form of a financial aid specialist, computer technician, testing coordinator and education advisor. Timing is critical in order to coordinate improvements in the small time-window prior to the Fall Quarter beginning in September. Commissioner Hopper noted that consideration must be given to the anticipated reduction in county property taxes which may have a negative impact on CEURA’s revenue. Mayor Nancolas stated that budget meetings are being held within the next few days and serious consideration will be given to the request."

"Steve Fultz presented a funding request for acquiring the TVCC construction documents for the future facility in the amount of $159,782.86. These documents are currently owned by CCEDC. Mayor Nancolas noted that this request would be considered during the budget review process and deferred the decision"

Mayor Nancolas has noted the "obligation" to the YMCA of more than $10,000,000 has been fulfilled. This is more correctly a $10 million dollar ownership position in the YMCA by CEURA with your property tax dollars.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Guardians Discover $300,000 In Missing Transportation Funds

By Paul Alldredge, Caldwell GUARDIAN and David R. Frazier, Boise

While the legislature and governor are locked in a funding battle over transportation, the GUARDIANS have learned of $300,000 that seems to have slipped through the cyber cracks of the state computer-- thanks to a seven year long Canyon County alleged embezzlement only recently discovered.

Canyon County's Assessor, Gene Kuehn, apparently noticed problems with the numbers in the Motor Vehicle Division accounts of his office a while back. The assistant supervisor and one other person of the division were placed on administrative leave and later terminated--standard procedure in Canyon County when workers get caught crossways of the law.

Caldwell Police have been notified and are investigating. Since the matter deeply involves a state agency and state funds, look for the Canyon Prosecutor and Caldwell coppers to seek some expertise from the Idaho Attorney General's office.

Motor Vehicle licenses are sold by the county assessor in Idaho on a contract basis with the State Department of Transportation. We hear the state computer has a “big hole” in its security program and the alleged crime involved “multiple year registrations.” DMV workers in other counties were aware of the missing funds, having been tipped by their colleagues at the state level. It was an open secret among insiders who told us, “We were waiting for the shoe to drop.”

Once the legacy media gets on this GUARDIAN team report, we expect to hear some details of how the scam went down as officials spill the beans over the the alleged embezzlement.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Caldwell Urban Renewal Majority Owner of Caldwell YMCA

The Caldwell YMCA project may have been well intended, but it may be facing some legal funding obstacles.

While conducting record searches on the operation of the Urban Renewal agency, the GUARDIAN observed an emerging pattern that shows funds intended for URA capital projects are being used for operation of the private YMCA as well as underwriting programs for the multi-billion Simplot Company. Even private memberships to the Y are being funded by URA for Caldwell City officials.

What will happen to Caldwell YMCA when Urban Renewal ceases to send over a million dollars a year to the YMCA courtesy of property taxpayers?

The Guardian has watched the Caldwell East Urban Renewal Agency pour more than $10.2 million into the local YMCA from Caldwell property taxes collected by Caldwell Urban Renewal. Each year Caldwell Urban Renewal Agency gives another million dollars to the YMCA along with other urban renewal funding for such things as a Wellness Programs to the tune of an additional $75k per year. Sixteen thousand from urban renewal also went to Simplot Companies for their Wellness programs.

What happens to the YMCA when Urban Renewal can’t give them any more money? This kind of money can't be made up by passing the hat and well intended fundraising in the community. (The answer may be in what Mayor Nancolas had to say below.)

The Guardian had separate face to face meetings with Mayor Nancolas and City Finance Director/Urban Renewal Chairman Eljay Waite about the YMCA funding by Urban Renewal. The Mayor’s response was if the YMCA defaults in any way the deed to the YMCA will come directly to the City of Caldwell. Mr. Waite did not give a clear answer to the question. Could the YMCA soon become the Idaho Center of Caldwell?

Another question was put to Mr. Waite: Why did Urban Renewal purchase a family membership for Mayor Nancolas to the tune of $880.00. This year Caldwell Urban Renewal paid for ½ memberships for three Urban Renewal Board members. The answer from Mr. Waite was "we need someone to keep an eye out on our investment at the YMCA".

The Guardian read through all of the Caldwell East Urban Renewal Agency minutes and came across a reference to a MEMORANDUM of UNDERSTANDING between the City, Urban Renewal and the YMCA. Turns out the Caldwell East Urban Renewal Agency is a FRACTIONAL OWNER of the YMCA to the extent of Urban Renewal property taxes put up for the YMCA. The numerator is the extent of Urban Renewal Ownership against the total money spent the Denominator or total money spent on the YMCA.

This is a very good example of the abuses of Urban Renewal. A group of five people deterimined it to be OK to spend over $10 million of Caldwell property taxes with no vote of the people.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Nampa Urban Renewal Wants To Be Landlord to County

Mayor Tom Dale, Chief of Police Bill Augsburger and others from Nampa Development Corporation met with Canyon County Commissioners on Thursday (4/23). Team Tom wants to put a second floor on the yet to be built Nampa Public Safety building and rent 10,000 sq. ft. of space to the Canyon County for courtroom space.

Mayor Dale and the Nampa Urban Renewal plan calls for NDC to build a 20,000 sqft on top of the yet to be built Nampa Public Safety building at additional cost of $7 million or $350 per square foot. They want the county to cede the annex to Nampa so they can tear it down and use the land for parking.

Team Tom and the NDC want to then give the county "rental credit" for the annex land. The figure mentioned was around $300K to be applied to rent for new courtroom space on the second floor of the yet to be built Public Safety building. Nampa wants to charge the county $19-$20 per square foot per year under their lease terms presented. This means the County Commishes would be on the hook for at least $190K per year for courtroom space in this building at county taxpayer expense.

Mayor Tom still does not understand Article 8 Section 3 of the Idhao Constitution. However, our Commissioners seem to understand the non-appropriation clause in this part of the constitution. They can't go out beyond one budget cycle for any reason without 2/3 assent of the voters. Leasing space on a long term lease is illegal. Commissioners wisely expressed this concern to Team Tom. Mayor Dale seemed more than willing to violate the Idaho Constitution when it serves his interests.

Urban Renewal wants to build the building without a vote of the people. If the Commissioners do act on this offer, they explained to Mayor Dale they would have to seek a bond election in order to purchase a condominium portion of the Nampa Public Safety building.

If this project moves forward all taxpayers of Canyon County would have a building costing in the range of $42 million with two forms of financing. First would be non-voter approved revenue bonds issued by Nampa Urban Renewal. Second would be a condominium portion approved by a voter approved bond election. Every Canyon County property taxpayer will get stuck with paying for this project. Commissioner Alder attempted to explain this to Team Tom and others at this meeting.

Mayor Tom and Nampa Urban Renewal appeared willing do anything they can to avoid a taxpayer authorized bond election. They remain optimistic legal challenges to Nampa Urban Renewal will be dismissed by the Idaho Supreme Court. They can then issue revenue bonds with zero voter approvals.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

District Judges and Commishes Exchange Words Re: Termination

The Guardian learned three District Court Judges, the Trial Courts Administrator, County Prosecutor and the Commissioners exchanged words over the recent termination of the Juvenile Probation Director.

Not only was the Director terminated but the Commishes said they were taking over the responsibility for Juvenile Probation as well. Circumventing the Trial Courts Administrator as well in this matter.

Justices Kerrick, Culet and Ryan met with Commissioners over what they view as a violation of procedures and a power grab by the Commishes. A couple of weeks ago the Director of Juvenile Probation was called in and terminated. She was thanked for her 19 years of service to the county with no recourse.

The termination was done by going around the Trial Courts Administrator who was the direct supervisor of the person in question. All of this is a turf issue as the Judges are paid by the State of Idaho, their staff is paid by the county. Their chain of who is in charge of who gets tangled. The County Clerk is the go between for the Judges and the Commishes.

It will be interesting to hear the recording of this meeting once a copy can be obtained. The three Justices are highly agitated over a violation of their turf by the Commishes.

This all looks like the opening salvo in a protracted dispute between the Commissioners and District Judges.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

County Development Services Numbers

How far have the numbers nosedived for development in Canyon County?

The Guardian has obtained some startling numbers via public records requests and will share them with you.

Canyon County Development Services Department currently employs sixteen people on a full time basis. (Seven people were laid off earlier this year.) They also have a contract employee they have paid $94,300 for through the end of April 2009. This works out to $13,714.00 per month for seven months of this fiscal year for contract services in addition to what is budgeted for employees.

At the peak of the construction boom they were taking in $191,000 for the month of November 2006 in fees for building permits. This year the numbers are abysmal. Permit fees collected by Canyon County Development Services as of 4/15/09 amount to $270.00!

DSD managers budged to collect $80k/month in fees for services fiscal 2009. The reality is about $30k/month or 37% of what was projected. Fiscal 2009 has generated a paltry $211K YTD.

Fiscal 2007 generated $1,198,710.00 in fees for services. Business is off by 80% this year from the all time highs of 2007.

How long can the bleeding go on before some drastic actions are teken to bring this department in line with the revenue they are generating? They budgeted $80k per month in revenue or $560k YTD

According to the County Assessor housing valuations have decreased by 30% in 2008 and another 11% in 2009. It will be interesting to see what happens to property taxes this year when we get our new valuation notices in June 2009.

We have a boom and bust cycle in Canyon County. Elected officials are in denial about it and hope prosperity is just around the corner. Let's hope they are right.

Budget time in August this year will surely be painful for cities and Canyon County when they will be forced by law to balance their budgets.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Commishes May Seek Bonding for New Jail At "Taxable" Interest Rates

It has been reported to The Guardian our Canyon County Commishes meet with Eric Herringer of Seattle Northwest Securities last Thursday about underwriting bonds to build a new jail. $50 million is the figure tossed around for public consumption.

The Guardian obtained a recording of the meeting today and below is a summary.

Commishes are looking at August 2009 to float a bond election for a new jail. The cost of the election will be in the neighborhood of $50,000.00. There is no money budgeted for this election at this point in time. They want the August date so they can fold the increased levy rate into this years tax bills if the bond election passes by 2/3rds majority.

Higher interest rates will be absorbed by Federal (our tax dollars) Obama Stimulus money. Not only will we get to pay locally but on a national scale as well for this effort. The spin names for these bonds are RECOVERY ZONE BONDS (RZB's) subsidized at 45% of the taxable interest rate and BUILD AMERICA BONDS (BAB's) subsidized at 35% of the taxable interest rates.

Underwriting costs (sales profit) and legal fees (lawyers) will run about $1 million or more if this gets past voters. More costs will apply if the county tries to get an enhanced bond rating from A to AA.

$10 Billion is out there from the federal government on a first come first served basis for the RZB/BAB bond subsidies.

Tax free municipals carry about a 4.5% tax free interest rate. Taxable bonds around 7%. Interest rates change daily and you would have to apply the subsidy rates to arrive at the actual interst.

Spring Landfill Cleanup Fee's Waived

Landfill fees waived for Spring Clean Up

CALDWELL — The Board of Canyon County Commissioners has waived landfill fees for community “Spring Clean-Up” Days in April and May.

Residents who live north of Highway 55 or in Caldwell, Middleton, Notus, Parma, Greenleaf and Wilder may bring their household wastes to Pickles Butte Sanitary Landfill on April 25, while those living south of Highway 55 or in Nampa and Melba may bring waste to the landfill May 2.

Up to one ton of residential “clean-up” waste will be accepted without charge on those dates. Waste in excess of one ton will be accepted for the regular landfill fee. Only one refrigeration unit and up to four passenger car/light truck tires will be accepted free of charge per residential customer.

Customers dropping off wood or metal waste are asked to separate those objects for recycling at the landfill.

Commercial haulers hauling normal business wastes will be charged the landfill’s regular fees on those days.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Election Year Goodies

The Guardian is amazed at all the "free stuff" around all us in this elections year courtesy of our local elected officials. Urban Renewal is still tyring to sell us the notion all their spending is "at no cost to taxpayers".

We have the best and brightest minds trying to figure out how to get us out of the bankers and Wall Street mess with the "heads they win and tails we lose" financial market. Populist backlash and people out of work want to see some heads on a silver platter and some people in fancy suits doing the perp walk.

Politicians at our local levels have been doing some hand wringing over budget issues and trying still keep pet projects moving forward. Political sleight of hand may be running out of gas with voters. People out of work, retirement accounts evaporated by the stock market meltdown, houses foreclosed. People feeling the impacts of Suits who did nothing but shuffle money around still getting bonus money from taxpayers for the mess they created. Populist anger roiling on the one hand and generosity from working people on the other.

Meanwhile, county and city officials are not putting any "skin" in the efforts to cut what they are spending to any significant levels. Nor are they showing any inclination to give property tax payers a break. County, Caldwell and Nampa officials have openly stated they expect property taxes to be revenue neutral and will raise levy rates for all property owners. They will be taking a 3% increase above the highest revenue collected in the past three years. Our County Assessor is now saying property values will go down by about 15% but your property taxes will be going up.

Our elected deciders can't seem to figure out the people they work for are bleeding in this economy. Businesses are closing right and left. These folks continue with their 'FREE STUFF" mentality. Elections this fall for city officials will result in a regime change or more of the same smoke and mirrors. Your vote counts more than ever this Fall.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Team Garret Flummoxed On City Hall Project

The Guardian learned today about the City Hall catalyst project not going to happen as origianlly planned.

It would appear Team Garret and Urban Renewal have pulled in their horns on a new city hall and TVCC. Mayor Nancolas and Team Garret have been receiving flak from every direction on all their spending for a new city hall nobody really asked for nor do we really need. That leaves TVCC on the table to move forward.

It would not be a surprise to have the Mayor come out and announce they are back to plan "A" for TVCC at Sky Ranch. The other idea floating around town is TVCC will locate downtown in the Oppenheimer project building sans a new city hall. Some of this was hashed out at the Caldwell Economic Development meeting Tuesday of this week.

No doubt TVCC will move forward, the only question is will they be downtown or out at Sky Ranch OR??? The downtown plan for a combination TVCC/City Hall has unraveled due to lack of funds. More than $7 Million is in the coffers of Urban Renewal as of budget time last August to spend on the "CATALYST PROJECT". (reads..non revenue generating)

Meanwhile TVCC has come back to Urban Renewal for more than $40k to fund rent at the Mercado building because they will not be on target to occupy any new digs financed by Caldwell Urban Renewal.

It has also been learned, a developer for a new Fred Meyer in Caldwell has finally gotten the "green light" from Team Garret to gain access from his property to Hwy. 20/26. City Officials have had the project bottled up for several years in bureaucratic red tape.

Fred Meyer store location will be on Hwy 20/26 between Aviation and Smeed Parkway on the south side of the highway. The Principals in the Fred Meyer project brought in their lawyer and word is the threat of a big dollar lawsuit swayed the Mayor an his Team into clearing up access issues to Hwy. 20/26.

Once again, we have a great example of a city without a plan. No plan, no world view and reacting as they stumble forward managing growth. All of the studies including the Leland Report languish in the dust heap at city hall. Money spent for these studies reports and plans is called into question.

There are also some rumors about St. Lukes Hospital and their plans (plight) on the opposite side of Hwy 20/26 as well. St. Lukes owns 117 acres on the north side of 20/26 ans seem to be having similar access issues to Hwy 20/26. St Luke's paid $13million for the property in 2006 and to date nothing is happening to develop the property.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Rep. Robert Schaefer Takes a Poke At Nampa And Caldwell For Spending Too Much

The following is from Rep. Schaefer's weekly update on the legislative session:

"If you or I have a drop in income, what do we do? If you are responsible, you'd reduce spending. if you are irresponsible, you'd continue spending and running up credit cards.

I just read that Namap and Caldwell will force the overburdened taxpayers to pay more so they can continue spending more. That's irresponsible. The county is cutting back and so is the state. The cities don't appear to understand how serious the state of the economy really is.

Do they not read about the thousands of citizens being laid off?? Builders are not building and stores are not selling. Cities should take the lead from the county and state and not penalize taxpayers who have lost too much income already. It's incumbent for government at all levels to be responsible."

Editor note:

County Commishes and Elected County Officials have been doing a fair amount of hand wringing over just how to manage the drop in revenue. They have cut positions in Development Services and put a hiring freeze and a further paring of positions is talked about with a yet to be defined across the board cut in pay for everyone at the county. The full measure of cutting at Canyon County is not yet completed.

Meanwhile Nampa and Caldwell and the "Singing Mayors" continue to play the fiddle while Rome burns. Mayor Nancolas of Caldwell and Mayor Dale of Nampa spent tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars on a trip back to Washington DC with eleven high school students. The necessity of this trip has not been satisfactorily explained to taxpayers. Caldwell advanced the MYAC $3,000.00 out of city funds to finance the trip, as a loan based on anticipated revenue from a golf tournament this summer.

Caldwell tally for the trip as represented to THE GUARDIAN is $10,300.00. This was an unnecessary expense to the taxpayers. Ditto for Mayor Dale. Shame on these guys.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Proposed Amendment To Limit Voting Rights

by Davir R. Frazier

In a shameful act of disdain for the constitutional rights of citizens, The Idaho legislature is trying to strip voters of authority currently guaranteed by the Idaho Constitution. At issue is Article VIII, sec 3 of the the constitution which gives citizens authority to approve long term debt by any “subdivision of state government”–generally cities, counties, and school districts.

In the waning days of the session, Rep. Fred Wood is introducing a proposed amendment that would exempt airports, parking garages, recreation facilities, all urban renewal projects, public hospitals and “any revenue generating facility” from complying with the constitutional provision that gives citizens the power to approve or reject debt exceeding a single year’s annual revenues.

Ever since GUARDIAN editor David R. Frazier prevailed in the Idaho Supreme Court case against Boise City over a proposed $29 million parking garage, cities, counties and public hospitals have worked to either amend the constitution or subvert the will of the voters by declaring projects to be within urban renewal districts–sometimes even creating the district to avoid voter scrutiny.

We have been adamant in our defense of the constitution, looking at all of the unintended consequences created. For instance just about anything could be declared a “revenue generating facility.” Golf courses, jails (rent cells to the state or feds), a high school sports stadium–anything claiming to generate revenue to pay off bond debt.

If a project is funded without using property taxes and it benefits the community, put it up for a vote and get the citizens behind it! Idahoans routinely approve bonds and levies for school districts and they deserve to weigh in on major “Profound” public projects constructed on public land with public money for public use.

If the amendment is passed by two-thirds of both the house and senate, it will be on the ballot in November 2010. At that time it will need a simple majority of votes from people wishing to give up their voting right and trust politicos to decide financial matters with no oversight.

The amendment is ill conceived and ill intended. There certainly has been no grassroots movement from citizens wishing to limit their voice. It is a move by lobbyists and local politicos who fear those they claim to represent.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Unifroms for Elementary Schools District Wide Contemplated in Caldwell

THE GURADIAN learned today at a local service club lunch Caldwell School District is making the effort to have uniforms manditory for all elementary school children.

Jennifer Swindel, Public Information Officer for Caldwell School District gave an impressive presentation in all the features, functions, and benifits of having our kids in uniforms. First it will make the schools a safer place with those not in uniform and not belonging in the school get quickly noticed when they are on campus. Next, the cost will be much less than what is spent on other clothing. Shirts are around $5 and pants with double knees priced well below denim and other options. Skorts and skirts were also discussed for the girls. Also peer pressures on kids who can't afford deisgner lable clothing will be removed.

There was even talk of having teachers adopt a dress code for teaching professionals in the district.

THE GUARDIAN can see no down side to this effort and would encourage folks to give it a try. Those in attendance with kids in Vallivue say their costs for school clothing went way down. And the kids seem to like the change as well.

Politicos to People..."Let Them Eat Cake"

Actions by our elected and appointed government officials at the local levels hearken back to the French Revolution and the famous phrase "let them eat cake". The people had no bread to eat and the Queen responded.."let them eat cake".

Local newspaper stories indicated our local politicos have very little intention of cutting back anywhere for anything that will bring property valuations, current levy rates and spending into alignment. They in fact, want to spend even more money on stuff none of us asked for nor want. Think new city hall in Caldwell, Police and Library in Nampa, and a new jail along with other goodies at the County level.

Housing values are down around 20% in twenty metropolitan areas monitored by the S&P Case-Shiller Index. This valley follows those values quite closely when held up for comparison. Caldwell, Nampa, and Canyon County have yet to demonstrate to the taxpayers they are pulling in their horns on spending at any serious level.

The cat is out of the bag on raising the levy rates plus 3% to the highest rates over the past three years. Meanwhile the unwashed masses have to figure out how to do more with much less income. Somehow this just does not seem right.

Life goes on at the city and county levels. Our state Legislature is making painful cuts to balance their budget but life goes on pretty much as usual for the locals. They are just going to raise the levy rates and take a tax increase. Ditto for the Urban Renewal Boards. They get to stay "revenue neutral" thru this economy.