Tuesday, March 27, 2012
THE GUARDIAN attended the meeting on the County Campus Master Plan this evening and learned much about what the plan hold for taxpayers.
All three Commissioners gave a short presentation, Comm. Ferdinand gave a historical perspective on how Caldwell became the county seat and how the existing courthouse came to be, Comm. Rule presented the consultant plan for growth and Comm. Alder gave the financing plan to initiate the initial big dollar projects.
The short version is County Commissioners will approach the Caldwell East Urban Renewal Agency to issue Revenue Bonds in the amount the county can expect from 2016 through 2022 which will come to about $9.5 Million plus underwriting and interest charges. The first capital project will be a new Juvenile Detention Facility and a conversion of the current juvenile facility into an 85 bed jail for male inmates. The juvenile occupancy loading in the current juvenile lockup is averaging about thirty per day over the last couple of years and has trended downward by about 40% from what it was just five years ago. The new juvenile facility will be located on the corner of 12th and Albany and cost an estimated $1.9 MM.
Next will be a new county administrative office structure built on the current parking lot across from the current courthouse at 1115 Albany Street. This has an estimated price tag of $8.4MM. The plan calls for a parking area on the street level under the office building and two stories at 41,000 SF per floor for at least two floors with the footings built to allow for additional floors at a later date. The Commishes anticipate just using one floor of the new building with the second floor of the office space to remain unfinished until a later date.
The existing courthouse would be converted to courtrooms for judges with the closure of the Nampa Courthouse in discussion mode and to accommodate more judges sent to the county by the State of Idaho. Also, the Public Defender would occupy space in the existing courthouse.
The prospect of the county budget getting cut by another $2 Million this year with property values and expected revenue tanking to be the budgeting reality. The current CAP on taxes is making the usual 3% hike in property taxes a no-go deal for budgets for not only the County but for just about all taxing districts.
The main pitch by Comm. Alder was this approach would not raise any taxes but at the same time the expected windfall and reduction in property taxes would not happen if REVENUE BONDS are issued for this expected revenue. Additionally, there would be no voter approvals on this if CERA agrees to issue revenue bonds for Canyon County.
THE GUARDIAN hopes the Commishes give some consideration to an advisory vote in this matter. We are talking about spending more than $10 MM of taxpayer dollars. The public meeting efforts are appreciated but the only way to really know the degree of backing for this is via a vote on the question by those paying the bills.
Posted by Paul Alldredge at 9:43 PM