Monday, December 6, 2010
The Idaho Constitution and its pesky Article VIII, Sec. 3 has once again caused trouble for the City of Caldwell and its legal staff. The constitution bans obligations, liabilities and debts beyond a single year’s revenues without a vote of citizens.
However, at a recent City Council meeting the city entered into an illegal, unconstitutional 5 year long term lease agreement with the YMCA. The $1 million annual payment of (urban renewal) public money, combined with monthly payments for subsidized memberships is meant to bolster the coffers of the Y at public expense on behalf of Simplot and public employees apparently isn’t enough for the YMCA.
The YMCA, a private club, sought additional monthly payments of $575 from the Caldwell City Rec department to rent a single room for use by the recreation department–something one would think the Y would offer to the community youth since it is supported so predominately by property taxes diverted to Urban Renewal and handed over to the YMCA in the form of $1Million annual payments. A YMCA spokesperson told the Guardian the city /urban renewal pays no money toward the $696k annual operations cost... that all comes from the YMCA. The $1 million in urban renewal money goes toward the capital expense of the building.
When the Caldwell GUARDIAN inquired of the City about the illegal lease agreement, the City responded saying, “It will be fixed at the next council meeting” in a email response from Mayor Garret Nancolas.
We draw no conclusions with regard to the intent of the city or the expertise of its legal counsel, but citizens clearly deserve better.
No doubt Caldwell City officials will make the deal an annual agreement with renewals over the next five years or just make a lump sum payment out of the current budget. For us the issue is not so much the structure of the deal, but the nature of repeatedly using public funds–whether that of the City or Urban Renewal–for private clubs, regardless of how noble the cause.
Posted by Paul Alldredge at 3:08 PM