Tracking code caldwell guardian

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Overclass Paid Well In Canyon County Public Sector

What do we pay them? This was a feature in the Sunday edition of the IPT.  What was interesting was there was no real commentary to go with the smiling faces of all the elected and appointed officials and how much they are paid.  The numbers posted do not include the benefits package these folks receive. A good number of these folks are into the low six figure range for pay. (link to article What do we pay them.. )

We just had to go see what the median income in Idaho is for the average household in Idaho.  The says the median houseold income in the Great State if Idaho is $47,000!

 Somehow we as taxpayers have allowed the pay of public servants to get completely out of whack with those who are paying the bills.  We realize $100k/yr. just doesn't buy what it used to buy a few years back.

No wonder charter schools can't make ends meet when they have teachers who are paid $75k/yr for 185 days of work.  That comes to over $400/day plus benefits for these teachers.  Valivue and Caldwell School Districts with administrative burdens over $1MM for each district. Nampa School District make over $1.33MM for the jobs and pay listed in the IPT.

Liberty Charter School comes in at just under $1MM for their administrative burden on taxpayers.

(Note Benefits were added to the published pay at the rate of 32% to cover all benefits and social costs.)

Canyon County, city of Caldwell and city of  Nampa all came in over $1MM for their top ten admin jobs.  THE GUARDIAN is old enough to remember that a six figure annual income was a lot of money.  Census data tells us the median household income is $47k/year and all this makes THE GUARDIAN wonders how we got so far out of whack with public servant pay scales compared to those of us paying the bills.

No wonder charter schools are having a time of it trying to make ends meet based on the overly generous pay given to Liberty Charter administrators and teachers.  How did their school board let administrative costs get so out of control?

Congress along with their waste and spend ways is the stuff of hate and Tea Party discontent amongst voters but THE GUARDIAN would offer there is plenty for us to take stock of as taxpayers right here at home.  Apathy is problematic and probably nothing will happen.  We do want to thank the IPT for this public service.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Home Sweet Home Now Worth 12% Less!

We had the opportunity to chat with our friends at the Canyon County Assessor's Office last week and wanted to know the deal on the housing prices and market values.  The sad truth is real estate continues to be a very poor investment.  Our source shared with us Caldwell and Nampa can look forward to about a 12% decrease in values on the average based on market sales data gathered by the Assessor's staff from MLS data.  Some values declined more and some declined less but values in the two largest cities in the County continue to erode.  The county folks not quite so bad with an 8% drop in overall values on the average. 

Does this mean you will pay less property tax...FAGEDDABOUTIT.  The levy rates and the assessed values work together to determine the taxes you will pay.  State law allows cities and counties to remain REVENUE NEUTRAL and take a 3% overall increase in property tax revenue.  When reading the minutes and transcripts of the Commishes during budget hearings in 2009/10 regarding the Bujak legal mess it was clear the Commishes were painfully aware they had to do something to lower taxes. 

They could lower the tax load or face trying to explain a 20% increase in the levy rates to voters and taxpayers.  THE GUARDIAN has to had it to them,  they worked at lowering the tax bite for all of us last year rather than face the music from hostile taxpayers.  You can look forward to seeing a lower assessed value on your property but don't expect any reduction in your property tax load this year.

We received good news from Mayor Nancolas last week that it is his intention to float an RFP (request for proposals) on misdemeanor prosecutions for the city of Caldwell.  Currently, Caldwell pays $34,000.00 a month to the law firm doing prosecutions but about $9,500/month goes for civil work.  Let's all wait and see what Mayor Nancolas and Mayor Dale of Nampa do to match the efforts of the County Commishes last year.  Caldwell raised taxes 2.7% and if we recall correctly Mayor Dale came in with a 5% increase (he took 2% from the previous year and took the 3% allowed by law).

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Home and Property Owners To Get Another "Flat Tax"

Nampa Homeowners Face $48 Flat Tax Hike by David R. Frazier

Question: When is a tax not a tax?

Answer: When it comes in the form of a mandatory “fee” from Nampa City Hall.

Mayor Tom Dale has sent a letter to property owners inviting them to attend an April 27 meeting at the Nampa Civic Center to discus a plan to curtail the continued pollution of Indian Creek and other waterways in the city with surface runoff.

We have to applaud the Team Tom effort to comply with the Fed Regs, but their language is worthy of a late night infomercial . In the letter and accompanying brochure, they say that, “Because of our growth as a city we are required by the Clean Water Act to develop a program to manage storm water and decrease pollution.”

The City has also come up with a proposal that will cost a mere “$3 to $4 per month” per residence as an “enterprise fund” to take care of surface runoff. Commercial property will pay based on a complex formula of square feet under a roof or pavement.

What this boils down to is: Nampa surface water pollutes natural waterways in violation of the Federal law. To fix it, homeowners face a minimum mandatory tax that could nudge $50 a year.

EDITOR NOTE:  We can all expect the same letter from Caldwell Mayor Nancolas over the Pioneer Irrigation legal FUBAR. Growth issues were poorly managed with respect to run off.  Public officials have known about this for over 20 years that the clean water act was going to force run off retention.  It  was brought to light in the late 1980's something had to be done or the FEDS were going to let us have it their way on this issue.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Budget Time Starts NOW! Got Some Ideas to Save Money?

THE GUARDIAN would like to let taxpayers know BUDGET TIME  is starting right about now for all the Cities and Counties statewide in Idaho.  Just for fun we sent a couple of suggestions to our local city and county elected officials.  Believe it or not! We got some feedback from the good people who struggle to make ends meet on the millions derived from all of us over the year.  We think this is a great opportunity to get some things out for our elected officials to consider this next fiscal year.

Here are some of the things we have already received for discussion and action by the mavens of govt. on the local level:
1.  The city of Nampa and the County seem to be doing a great job for the taxpayers with the County Prosecutor doing the Nampa prosecutions.  The savings has a spread of about $300k actual cash.  The good part is the hard to determine value of speeding up the courts and getting people to trial more efficiently.  Less jail space is needed to house people just waiting to go to court.

2.  Why isn't/hasn't Caldwell issued a RFP for our County Prosecutor to bring misdemeanor prosecutions into the County PA's Office?

3.  Nampa is building a new cop shop and is installing a state of the art dispatch center.  Why not combine the dispatch services county wide into the Nampa dispatch center. *(Probably won't fly because the Sheriff will have to fore go the 911 cash generated via your phone bills).  It has been reported to THE GUARDIAN $1 million dollars can be saved if implemented.

4. City and County Coppers have got to come to grips with the cost of gasoline at $4/gallon.  Why not start replacing those big ugly Ford Crown Vics with more fuel efficient cop cars?  Chevy Impala's come in a police version and get over 20 mpg in the city.  Take a look at what other countries use for cop cars where gas is $8/gallon.  The future is here and why do we need a high speed pursuit car for city and rural county duty.  Makes sense for the Interstate we have a large Detroit Iron but in the city .... hmmmm, probably not necessary but certainly very macho.  County now uses about 12,000 gallons of fuel a month.  City of Caldwell was burning through about $15,000 dollars worth of fuel a month with the coppers using the most.

5.  Why is the Fair Board looking to relocate.  We already have the Idaho Center sitting idle.  Why create another venue to sit idle.

6.  Your turn for some suggestions from you GUARDIAN READERS to save us all some cash.  Put them in the comments and we'll forward them to city or county people for consideration.

What is really interesting is when you start looking and cutting small stuff there can be huge benefits that come from other areas.  We know the Nampa prosecution contract saved a lot of cash.  Last year they did the Nampa prosecutions and the PA turned back $920k due to the inherent efficiencies of not having to deal with a third party in the Nampa prosecutions due to wasted time.

Canyon Prosecutor Message to County Taxpayers

January 1, 2011

Dear citizens of Canyon County:

The “State of Prosecution” in Canyon County has never been stronger. Of course, the Canyon County Prosecutor’s Office has undergone some major changes, but I assure you that our capability and drive to prosecute criminals, create a better and safer community, and serve as stewards of the public trust is at an all-time high.

Five major changes have taken place in the Prosecutor’s Office over the past year, with a special emphasis on the last quarter of 2010, which have led to very positive changes for the County, as well as the highest conviction rates seen in the past decade:

(1) Strong law enforcement relations: The relationship between the Prosecutor’s Office and law enforcement is the strongest it has ever been. The Prosecutor’s Office is more accessible to law enforcement than ever before. Through the cooperative relationships that have been established, successful prosecution has become the norm.

(2) High quality prosecutors: The Prosecutor’s Office has undergone a major change in personnel. The current deputy prosecutors in the office are dedicated to doing justice, willing to work far beyond expectations, and realize their importance in creating a safer community. We are committed to the Office becoming a destination for employment, not a last resort.

(3) Organizational structure: The Prosecutor’s Office has adopted a model of vertical prosecution. This is where a deputy prosecutor handles a case from start to finish. Further, the Prosecutor’s Office is structured into specialized units. Deputy prosecutors handle cases based on the type of crime in which they have received specialized training in (i.e. drugs & gangs, sex crimes, domestic violence, etc.). This model allows for deputy prosecutors to gain expert knowledge and experience to the type of cases they are prosecuting.

(4) Paperless: The Prosecutor’s Office has transitioned to a paperless file system. This system has saved thousands of dollars to both the county and the cities in just paper costs alone. Through cooperative efforts between law enforcement and the defense bar, police reports are being sent electronically. This has created a far more efficient and productive system.

(5) Transparency: The Prosecutor’s Office, particularly over the past few months, has become more transparent and open. This transparency has allowed for the public to observe the actions of the Office, which has lead to a higher quality of prosecution and more accountability.

Felony crime rates did not increase in the County as a whole this year, despite continued population growth, difficult economic times, inability to hire additional law enforcement or prosecutors, and otherwise limited resources. Research would indicate that crime should increase given these circumstances. However, Canyon County is a very resilient community and your Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and law enforcement have risen to the challenge.

The strong character of personnel we have working in our criminal justice system has clearly surfaced through the adversity placed before us. With depleted resources on all levels, law enforcement and prosecutors have worked exceptionally hard, together, to see conviction rates reach their highest levels in the past 10 years. Further, the number of cases being prosecuted has increased, assuring that criminals are being held accountable. Law enforcement and prosecutors are working harder with less, and are more successful than ever, even given the number of new challenges thrown at them. However, even though prosecutors and law enforcement continue to work diligently with far less than we had two years ago, it is important for the citizens of Canyon County to be cognizant of what the prosecution numbers look like for the county from this past year. It is my intent to provide the public with strong statistical data.

The state of prosecution is very strong. Those who work in the criminal justice system day in and day out overwhelmingly share a common belief: That we are the front line in making our community a safer and more enjoyable place to live.


Bryan Taylor, PhD, JD
Canyon County Prosecuting Attorney

The budget season is upon the cities and counties of Idaho.  We did a little research into the Nampa contract with the County for prosecution costs and efficiency issues.  Here's the short version.  The county is covering their costs with a cash overage with respect to actual costs to prosecute.  Nampa is saving about $150K over what was paid to Hamilton, Mikelson, Hilty Law Offices (HMH).

It is time for the city of Caldwell to float an RFP for prosecution services. HMH currently receives from Caldwell about $35K a month for legal fees.  $25k for prosecutions and $10k for civil issues.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hwy 20/26 Widening Done at Property Taxpayer Expense

THE GUARDIAN attended the meeting/public workshop conducted to enlighten citizens about the widening project on Hwy 20/26 from Aviation to Smeed Pkwy.  The project isn't on the ITD radar for any reasonable horizon.  This project is simply another effort by the Mayor and if the City Council agrees to entice developers to build their projects that might be located along this stretch of highway in Caldwell. 

Mayor Nancolas was clear the funding will come from the Caldwell Street Department and will be funded for the most part with property tax dollars.  Some will come from other revenue sources but the majority will come from property taxes held back for major street projects in Caldwell.

Cost of the project will be as low as $1.6MM if done on the cheap and as high as $3MM if done with all new materials for the road bed.  The meeting was attended by about fifty people as a quick guess. Most of those in the audience were from the developer community.  One of the developers, Mr. Eisenberg spoke in support of the project stating it would clean up the permitting process and will establish ingress and egress to Hwy 20/26 for those wishing to bring projects to Caldwell once the economy rebounds.

There will be no signalization of any of the intersections as that will be a developer expense but the conduits will be in place for signals.  One business owner in the Sky Ranch area was lobbying for signalization of Smeed and 20/26.

In summary, this is another roll of the dice in trying to get some business development in that area started.  The hope is it will eventually bring more jobs of an unspecified nature to Caldwell.  The life of the new pavement is expected to be around 20 years if built to IDT standards.  For the Mayor and City Council everyone has to collective ask ... if they build it will anyone come?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Bujak, Commishes and Nampa City Councilors a Legal Nighmare for Taxpayers

THE GUARDIAN has been watching the Bujak affair unravel since filing one of the first public records requests in this affair back in February of 2010.  It is another mess created by our elected officials in Nampa and the County. We even got a call from a State Police investigator about the case this past week due to the public records request made in February 2010.

What started out as Mr. Bujak's attempt to make the Prosecutions in Canyon County model a "District Attorney" approach to all county prosecutions has led to this mess.  Simply stated all prosecutions would be handled by the Canyon County Prosecutor and the hodge-podge of private legal firms would go bye-bye.  It would ultimately save taxpayers money and streamline the prosecutions along with increassed court efficiencies if it could be pulled off.

The original contract started out with no inkling Mr. Bujak would realize any personal profit when he bid on the Nampa Prosecutions by a reader of that contract.  Or better stated, there was not a hint of personal gain to be found in the public records we received in February of 2010.  By the time June of 2010 rolled around it became clear Bujak would more than likely make some kind of profit from the Nampa deal.  Bujak had bid $150k less than the private firm formerly doing the prosecutions.  A little known detail is under Idaho law county Prosecutors are allowed to make a profit as a public employee.  (another story we won't get into here)

County Commissioner's had and nor do they now have a written contract with Mr. Bujak with respect to residuals from the Nampa prosecution contract.  Forget it is a $600K deal, their concern was COnt costs would be covered in the arrangement and Bujak's staff would get pay bumps for their Nampa prosecution work.

Team Tom and the Nampa City Councilors wanted all the money to go directly to Mr. Bujak based on what they perceived as a raw deal on the County Animal Control billings they got from the County Commishes in the past.  This led to Nampa withdrawing from the County Animal Control program and starting their own program.  Again, this came about because they conveniently forgot the verbal agreement all the cities agreed to back in the day...... animal control charges would be amortized over the numbers of calls to each city each year.  New players came to office and challenged "past practice" with animal control costs and billings.  They perceived the Prosecution deal could be a "bait and switch" program.  Bid low and then come back for more money later.  Bujak personally on the hook took care of this concern.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bujak's personal finances were unraveling like a cheap sweater. His personal finances were in a shambles based on public records researched by THE GUARDIAN.  Late Spring and early Summer 2010 our County Commishes are bowing to public pressure over Bujak making a profit out of the Nampa Prosecution arrangements and contract.  They appear to be changing the verbal agreement of how much the County is to receive and in what time frame.  Add to all this is a citizen lawsuit by Mr. Henry over the details of the Nampa deal with Bujak ...this went to court and a Judge said Bujak's stuff is Bujak's stuff and not subject to public records laws.  Add to this Comm. Alder publicly states she sees no problem with Mr. Bujak making a profit.  Comm. Ferdinand wants all the cash Bujak got in the county treasury, formal letters are given to Mr. Bujak modifying reimbursement expectations we are now in August of 2010.

With everything caving in on Mr. Bujak's personal finances he files bankruptcy papers and the vultures are circling. Mr. Bujak makes one last payment to Canyon County and resigns his job as Canyon County Prosecutor.  In the bankruptcy hearings in the Fall of 2010, the IRS , the County and the Bankruptcy Trustee are all after whatever they can get from the Bujak's.  The cash and other assets are in the $100's not $1,000's presented in disclosure documents filed by Mr. Bujak.  He is officially broke with no money and dim prospects of paying anyone any amount of money. 

The bankruptcy trustee wants all the cash paid to the county returned to the pot of assets and cash that will be used by the bankruptcy court to settle claims against the Bujak's.

The County Commishes want the last $300k of the Nampa Prosecution contract money paid to Bujak and have spent nearly $80k of taxpayer money in pursuit of this cash that for all intents and purposes does not exist.

The Bujak's have filed a $25MM (give or take a few dollars) tort claim against the County.

THE GUARDIAN fears when all the dust settles and the courts untangle the legal mess it will once again be the Canyon County TAXPAYER'S who will be funding all the legal bills along with a big fat check to Mr. Bujak.  Remember, Bujak had no written contract with the County for payments and the County Commishes are going after Bujak for some kind of alleged crime.  We certainly hope this mess gets settled out of court.  The Judge has already warned the County and the Bujak's the stakes are very high for both sides.  Bottom line in all of this is the "RULE OF LAW" will prevail and while a lot of folks have made up their minds in this matter don't be surprised if the Bujak's don't end up on a nice sunny beach in Hawaii with a lot of our taxpayer dollars.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Caldwell Misses Yet Another Opportunity...St. Lukes Goes to Nampa

THE GUARDIAN learned several years ago St. Luke's owns 110 acres near the intersection of Aviation and Hwy 20/26 and wanted to come to Caldwell.  It was reported to THE GUARDIAN Caldwell city officials and administrators went out of their way to make it difficult for St. Luke's to gain access to Hwy. 20/26 in a manner deemed necessary by the people doing the expansion work for St. Luke's.  The economy then tanked and all has been quiet with respect to St. Luke's expansion plans at the Hwy. 20/26 site they now own in Caldwell. 

Today, we see on the front page of the Idaho Press Tribune, St. Luke's will now be expanding in the city of Nampa at Midland and Cherry near the Costco complex.  Also noteworthy is not a dime of the expansion tax dollars will go to dilute anyone's property taxes.  This parcel is in the Nampa Urban Renewal District so all the cash generated will do directly to Nampa Development Corporation for all the non-voter approved goodies NDC has on their list.

What is particularly troubling is the reports to THE GUARDIAN is city of Caldwell officials stated they would work very hard to keep St. Luke's out of Caldwell.  The source of this statement is a good one but does not wish to come forward with his identity.  Once again Caldwell has missed a golden opportunity for clean growth and good jobs for the residents of our city. 

The story in the paper today makes the Guardian ask if the members of the West Valley board who are also city officials and members of the local political establishment have helped or hindered St. Luke's in their quest to located in Caldwell?