Tracking code caldwell guardian

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Caldwell Property Values Continue Downward Spiral

Annual property assessments went out the end of last week and it is clear values continue to tank in Caldwell.  The county has seen lower values but not on the scale seen in Caldwell.  Overall, values have decreased by an average of 12% this past year.  My home went down more than the average stated by the County Assessor.

The Assessor is charged with determining full market value for all taxable property and has done what he is charged to carry out.  Now Canyon Cities and the County budget writers will have to figure out how to live with the new reality of no increases in property taxes due to the TAX CAP on levy rates.  Heretofore, all the assessed value meant was the portion of the budget assigned to your property.  And they were allowed to take a 3% increase but not now due to the CAP. 

With the CAP in place Caldwell is staring down the barrel of around $1.3 MM in less property tax revenue for City operations and the URA is looking to have about $700,000 in decreased "INCREMENT" to fund URA projects.
Canyon County will have its share of budgetary pain as well, 56% of the county budget comes from property taxes. Canyon County is looking at about a $3.5MM decrease in proeprty taxes this year. 

Police and Fire have often been mentioned by Mayor Nancolas as getting nearly all of the property tax revenue to fund these two public services and amounts to about 25% of the city budget.  PUBLIC SAFETY accounts for 51%+ of the Canyon County Budget.  It will be interesting to see how all this works out over the Summer until budgets are set come August 30th.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Fairview Golf Course Survivies Another Encroachment Effort

 We learned today from the IPT our beloved Fairview Golf Course has survived another takeover attempt by West Valley Medical Center.  Here's a link on the current state of affairs at the golf course:

Back in February of this year THE GUARDIAN posted a story about the takeover attempt with Caldwell City Officials pretty much willing accomplices in the effort.  A group of doctors wanted the four acres that comprise the 3rd hole and they wanted to buy it on the cheap.  City officials tried to sell it as a "safety improvement" along with some really poorly designed realignments of the course to accommodate the docs and West Valley.

THE GUARDIAN would like to thank everyone who made their collective voices heard on this poorly thought out plan.  It didn't fly with golfers nor did it fly with people concerned about the aesthetics Fariview Golf Course brings to our fair city.  It is good to know when the chips are down people are willing to step up and do something to stop what would have been a really bad outcome had this project moved forward.

Hats off to folks on this effort!  It may be time to consider this property as a historical feature of Caldwell.  It was a WPA Great Depression Project and has a lot of historical significance to Caldwell.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

CA Has New and Improved Primary This Year

We learned today California has a new and improved primary as well as November vote for elected officials.  Here's the way it will go down:

First the primary is an open primary and the privacy of voters is maintained no matter what they select as their party in the primary.

Second, no matter how many votes the top vote getter's end up with in the primary, they will face an opponent in the November election by the person who got the next largest number of votes regardless of party.  Could be two people from the same or opposing parties but no more having elections decided in the primary.

To my knowledge this is the first state to adopt this approach in deciding elected officials.  It will make it a horse race all the way to November and it will give people a choice in both the primary and general elections.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Closed Primary Simply Bad Idea

Turn out in the primary election was way too low and the reason can probably be traced to the Republican closed primary.  The idea of a closed primary and part purity was just plain silly.  It was a complete turnoff for most voters.  Low turnout for the Repub. primary will be problematic over time as more and more people get turned off and will not put up with this.

Mechanics of the primary required all manner of information most people do not wish to be public information.  The declaration document asked for email addresses, and several other items that would become public record. There are a number of people including THE GUARDIAN who think the voting box is private.  Add to this any number of people in the public spotlight who may not wish to have their political affiliation known. 

Excluding people from voting for their County Commissioners over party affiliation is another issue that is simply wrong.  Who knows the outcome of the election had everyone been allowed to vote and make the decision of party affiliation a private matter.  The closed primary does not further the notion of a government of the people, by the people and for the people.

THE GUARDIAN hopes all of this will be worked out at the party meeting in June.  The current voting restrictions in the primary does not get more people involved in the process nor is their voice heard.  Dominance of the Republican party in Idaho should be enough for party purists.

(Ivory Soap is only 99.44% pure)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Jail Bluster in Canyon County

"In 1998 the USA surpassed the former Soviet Union and won the crown as the globe’s foremost jailer with an incarceration rate of approximately 690 prisoners per 100,000 citizens. By comparison, that is almost 6 times Canada’s incarceration rate (115), over 12 times Greece’s rate (55), 19 times Japan’s rate (37) and 29 times India’s rate of 24 prisoners per 100,000 citizens.

Most Americans have turned a blind eye to the growth of what economists now refer to as "the Prison Industrial Complex." We know prisons are being built, but politicians and news anchors assure us that prisons are being build for prisoners, for bad people, for scumbags, not for us. It’s not our concern. At these epidemic levels of incarceration, however, we need to picture ourselves in prison, because the industry’s drive to build and fill cells is insatiable. We need to picture ourselves toiling to pay taxes to support these prisons at the expense of cuts in education and most social programs we hold dear."  (by Prof. Michael I. Niman. Prof. of Journalism at Buffalo State College)

Citizens of Canyon County have had a constant barrage of all the dire consequences of not building a new jail since the first bond election for $72.5 Million failed along with subsequent efforts and millions requested.  All this despite the fact crime rates in Canyon County as well as the entire country continue to drop.

Like it or not, we are entering a phase of NO to Very Slow Growth and with that there will be less tax dollars to fund the never ending thirst for more and more money from taxpayers.  Government at all levels will be forced to be smarter and smarter about where precious tax dollars are spent.  Keeping low level, non-violent people in jails and prisons is not very smart.

On a national average basis Canyon County has more jail beds than the national average. The proponents of more jail space point to the numbers of citizens in alternative sentencing programs other than jail or prison.  As citizens and taxpayers we should all be applauding this move.  Putting the right people in jails and prisons needs to be a priority. Nobody wants dangerous people on the street but past practice incarceration efforts and associated costs are not sustainable.

The United States now has about 760 people in jails and prisons per 100,000 of population.  The closest country behind the USA is Great Britain with about 150 people per 100,000 of population.  And get this the coppers over there are unarmed. (Incarceration Nation by Fareed Zakaria)

Idaho is going to have to build a new prison at a cost of over $220 Million and another $37 Million a year to operate the place. A private prison contractor has offered to build the prison with a guarantee the State of Idaho will guarantee to keep the place 90% full for the next 20 years.  All of this at taxpayer expense.  Prison reform needs to happen in a hurry to avoid this unnecessary cost to all of us.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Voting Not Complicated as Media Hype Says

THE GUARDIAN went to the elections office today to vote early and it was no big deal.  You will have to fill out a piece of paper indicting party affiliation for the primary.  A note of caution:  Your phone number and email address is requested but not mandatory.  I left those blank.  After filling out the form and presenting my ID it was onward to the ballot.  This phase was just like any other election ballot.  Use a black pen and black out the little oval on the ballot.

You can vote early until 5:00 PM this Friday at the County Elections office at the corner of Chicago and 11th Avenue.  The elections office will be closed on Monday the 14th of May to get ready for the election of Tuesday the 15th of May.  Those happy with the status quo can stay home or vote for the incumbents.  Not happy...then you need to participate in the process.

Unsure where to vote then go to this link and fill in your address:
It is the Idaho Secretary of State Website and it should give you your polling place no matter where you live in Idaho.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Assessor Values Property 9-12% Less This Year

THE GUARDIAN made an inquiry to the Canyon County Assessor on home values and got the following back:

"The numbers as of last night Caldwell down 11% Nampa down 9% and Middleton down 9%. And that does not include the impact from Commercial or Mobile homes because we have not run final numbers yet. By tomorrow we should know small towns and the county residential values. Remember these are gross City numbers one year compared to last year and not every home in Caldwell will enjoy a 12% decline some homes actually went up depending on the reappraisal cycle. Call me if you have more questions."

All of this means less revenue for cities and county government in Canyon County.  The CAP on property taxes will mean digging into reserves or making cuts to overall spending. 

Additionally, several articles in the Wall Street Journal indicate another round of foreclosures and repo houses will start in the next 45days.  Owning property is a gloomy proposition for those who have any expectation of appreciation in their homes and property.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Property Assessments Down 8-10% This Year

Shortly after the primary election property owners will start receiving their new assessed valuations.   Your property value is used as a multiplier with levy rates to determine your share of property taxes each year.

In years past property values didn't mean much because budgets were what drove the levy rates and taxing districts could simply raise levy rates as their part of the equation to get the dollars they budgeted.  This year just about all taxing districts are having to face the consequences of a BUDGET CAP. 

Short version of all this is property values are going to be down by 8-10% as overheard in the meeting Commishes and Caldwell officials had regarding Sheriff Dispatch fees.  In the audio tape that can be heard on the IPT website the percentages for property value decreases were not in dispute.  This means about a $2 MM drop in property tax collections by the county.  Cities will be facing the same 8-10% drop in property tax receipts. Property tax makes up about 1/3rd (give or take) of revenue to cities and counties.

They can't raise taxes due to THE CAP.  This will be the year local governments are going to have to do what most citizens face on a daily basis; they will have to start living with less cash to fund local government operations.  They are all going to be running on empty with respect to property taxation this year.  Cuts, furloughs and all other options will be on the table to balance the budget.

Canyon County Sheriff budget is the biggest slice of the pie at over 50% of the total county budget. Just north of $34 MM based on the current budget. Here's a link to the County Clerk/Auditor's web page where you can check out all the departmental budgets and where your money goes:


Thursday, May 3, 2012

United States Peace Index

THE GUARDIAN ran across a website that has developed a peace index for all 50 states.  It is sort of amazing to see the differences in coppers, crime and incarceration laid out state by state.  Idaho currently has some interesting numbers v. other states.  Here's a link:

The numbers speak for themselves when you compare Idaho with other states. Have some fun and poke around on this site. Take note of the national averages v. Idaho.

Peace out,