Tracking code caldwell guardian

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Ugly Side of Caldwell and Nampa Urban Renewal (TANSTAAFL*)

THE GUARDIAN received this opinion and has posted it for your consideration. This is in response to the articles on Caldwell Urban Renewal and the OUR VIEW OPED pieces in the Sunday IPT.

Growth in Caldwell and Nampa has increased all taxable valuations which means there is more real estate at risk for fire, earthquakes,and other natural disasters. This means we will need more K-12 schools, police, fire protection, roads, water and sewer demands, and all the other city services supported by property taxes.

But Urban Renewal is preventing the cities of Caldwell, Nampa and Canyon County from receiving all property taxes levied that would ordianarily go to fund city and county services. The cities and county get only the taxable values of the properties on the books prior to the formation of urban renewal districts. Urban Renewal Boards get all incrementally increased taxes to spend as they see fit.

Who will pay for city and county services demanded by all this new growth? The obvious answer is poor families, the old lady on a fixed income, and the hard working middle class of Caldwell, Nampa and Canyon County. Taxes on all the appreciated values and improvements within the boundaries of the urban renewal district go directly to the Urban Renewal District.

Wouldn´t it be nice if Caldwell Nampa or Boise would give YOU the increased tax revenues on all the improvements to YOUR home (or neighborhood) simply because the taxable value has increased?

No argument about it; tax subsidized urban renewal projects increase all property values in a community, but all of it is on the backs of common folks.

Think of the house YOU could build if Caldwell and Nampa offered up land, water, sewer and street improvements and provided low cost financing etc. for a project you would like to do.

Urban Renewal stinks as it relates to average citizens and property taxpayers.

Also, most citizens don´t have the money and legal resources used by Caldwell, Nampa and Boise. They take your tax money to lobby the Idaho State Legislature and file¨"friend of the court" briefs like Boise CCDC did in Rexburg on a swimming pool project.

Where is the need for the city of Caldwell or the Urban Renewal District to be involved in providing a structure for TVCC solely at the expense of Caldwell property tax payers?

Lastly, there is the issue of conflict of interest on the TVCC project. It flies in the face of the voter approved College of Western Idaho.

*TANSTAAFL, "THERE AIN'T NO SUCH THING AS A FREE LUNCH" cited in most Econ. 101 classes.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Are Caldwell, Nampa and Canyon County Ready for City Manager Govt.

THE GUARDIAN has been asking himself how many of our elected officials at city and county levels would have their jobs if they had to go through a formal hiring process. Moreover, how many of these well meaning folks would you put in charge of a $50-100 million dollar company as CEO? The only requirement other than getting elected is to be a registered voter. This qualification set appears weak, at best, when you start scratching on the surface of the issues our communities face today.

In 2007, more than 3,500 (49 percent) of the 7,171 U.S.cities and towns with populations of 2,500 residents or more operated under the council-manager form of gevernment. This structure is also used by more than 370 counties. More than 92 million people in the U.S. live in communities that operate under this form with professionally trained and educated city/county managers. (taken from ICMA webiste)

City Manager form of government grew out of political reform movements to facilitate a system of local government which combines strong political leadership of elected officials with the strong managerial experience of a professional local government administrator.

The goal of the City Manager is to provide professional administrative assistance to the City Council in establishing policies, programs, and services offered to the community.

A City Manager is appointed by the City Council to serve as the Chief Administrative Officer of the organization. The City Manager coordinates fulfillment of policies and programs established by elected City Councils. The City Manager provides overall direction to departments that administer City programs and services; implements inter-departmental programs for human resources, strategic planning, and emergency preparedness; and coordinates intergovernmental relations, lobbying, economic development, and public information efforts. The City Manager also oversees projects such as property acquisitions, special studies, such as annexations and development impact fees.

City managers typically will hold at least a Masters Degree in Public Administration or Management with excellent skills in finance, accounting and knowledge of governmental affairs. Good ones typically have 15-20 years of education, training and experience. They save cities and counties money!

How do they do,experience and training beyond just being a registered voter with a desire to do the right thing.

Currently, only three cities in Idaho have city manager government, Twin Falls, Lewiston, and McCall. It may be time to join the other 49% of cities in this great country by a vote for professionally managed government.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Does Idaho Need a Medical School

THE GUARDIAN attended a service club lunch this past week and the topic of the program was about the need for Docs in Idaho. We have one of the oldest average age levels for doctors at all levels of the medical field in Idaho. They will be hitting the rocking chairs in the very near future. The question is ...What to do and how soon? Think WAMI, Washington, Alaska, Montana, Idaho Medical School Program!

Our program speaker was Dr. Sam Summers and the point he made was the huge cost of funding a medical school in Idaho. It is a cost burden to all state taxpayers that most folks do not fully understand. The short answer is to fund more slots for Idaho student to attend the University of Washington and Utah via the WAMI Program . These two states have indicated that they are willing to accept more students from Idaho but want to be paid for the cost of the services.

The costs charged to Idaho would be the difference between in state and out of state tuition for students accepted into their programs. Students pay the in state tuition and the difference for the out of state tuition is paid by Idaho taxpayers. The cost today is about $50k per year for each student in the program. Idaho gets twenty slots every year at the University of Washinton. This arrangement sounds very reasonable to THE GUARDIAN. The State Legislature holds the votes to make things happen. All we need to do is fund more slots.

Currently, the president of Idaho State University is doing a full court press to get a medical school up and running at ISU. No matter what the cost is to the taxpayers. Cost benifit is not the issue here, it is a few people trying to do a noble thing but at a very high cost to the citizens of Idaho.

We have in past years had significant levels of "one time money" in the state budget surplus. How about putting this money into some kind of a foundation to fund slots for medical students from Idaho. Just a suggestion from a fertile mind..

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Boise Weekly Features Guardian Editors

Boise Weekly features Guardian Editors, see "Cities in Disguise" article.

In a well written and fair piece about the cities of Idaho vs the citizens right to vote, Lora Volkert wrote about the perils of urban renewal in the current issue of BOISE WEEKLY.

The decision in Third District Court is still pending, so no comments here further than the court record reported by Volkert.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Canyon County Deciders Want Your Opinion

CALDWELL - The results of the public opinion ballot used to help educate the public about Canyon County's new ballot style, which was voted at the Canyon County Fair, are now available at Rather than the familiar punch card, voters in the Nov. 4 General Election will use a pen to darken an oval corresponding to the selection of their choice. The public opinion ballots are in this new style.

The Elections Office has a number of ballots remaining and Canyon County residents who did not vote at the fair are invited to the Elections Office at 1102 E. Chicago in Caldwell, to express their opinion on a number of current Canyon County issues. The ballots will be available through Sept. 12.

This is a non-binding opinion ballot that will be reviewed by County Elected Officials and Department Heads. Interested residents may also call the Elections Office at 454-7562 to request a public opinion ballot be mailed to them. The voter must pay return postage.

It is important to note that for an official election such as the upcoming General Election, absentee ballots cannot be requested by phone. In an official election the requestor's signature must be compared against the signature on his or her registration form. In an actual election, voters may request an absentee ballot on plain paper, submit a completed absentee ballot request obtained from, or request an Absentee Ballot Request from the county elections office by phone at 454-7562.

Requests for an absentee ballot in an official election may be submitted on plain paper but must include the voter's name, Canyon County residence, address the absentee ballot is to be mailed (if different from county residence) and signature. All unsigned requests, whether on plain paper or official request forms, will be returned unfulfilled.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

CWI Community Metings Private or Public?

Community Conversation
WhenThu, Aug 21, 7:00pm – 8:30pm
WhereNampa Civic Center, 311 3rd Street, Nampa, Idaho (map)
DescriptionPublic meeting to: -- Inform the public about the College of Western Idaho; -- To gather input about public perspectives and needs; -- To engage the community in the creation of a long-term vision for their community college.
more details»

The above notice of a public meeting was taken directly off the CWI website. There is no mention of the meeting of those sent "special invitations" to a meeting that will take place at the Nampa Civic Center at 1:30PM on the same day. This "invite only" meeting will take place 1:30-5:00PM.

The afternoon meeting must be open to the public by law. THE GUARDIAN is letting you know that you too can go and be heard at this meeting as well.

note: 8-21-2008

I attended the afternoon meeting and made an appearance at the evening meeting and the format for both meetings was identical. The course offerings they plan to offer initially, look to be for students that will matriculate to a four year institution. There was almost nothing in the way of an Associates Degree/Technical programs. Perhaps this will change with inputs derived from the meetings.

Chance For Young Politicos to Shine

by Dave Frazier

Hey kids! Want to be the youngest elected official in Idaho with authority to levy $40,000,000 in taxes in the name of higher education?

If you are a registered voter living in Ada or Canyon County you can get your name on the ballot to fill one of the 5 open seats on the College of Western Idaho Board of Trustees with just 5 signatures of other registered voters. If you are 18 and NOT registered, just register to vote and you qualify to be an elected official.

The school is woefully underfunded, thanks to low ball estimates by those eager to get approval last year. The new board has authority to levy a ton of taxes on local property owners and they would not be bound by the promises of previous supporters. Conversely, the new board could be taken over by anti-tax types and they could kill all funding efforts with a tiny levy.

Chances of a victory in the November election are pretty good for ANY candidate because Seats 1,2,3, don’t have any candidates at all. Seates 3 and 4 are also up for election and you just have to beat a couple of men appointed to the posts who are not likely to campaign hard for a non-paying position.

The CWI trustee job pays NOTHING, meets at least monthly, and takes a fair amount of time. The rewards include being an “elected official in Idaho” so you LEGALLY get to carry a concealed weapon with no permit. (Just don’t try to go through airport security packing heat or you get busted by the feds.)

If the younger set decide to step up and serve their community through the CWI Board, they will be in a position not only to levy property taxes, but even hire and fire the president of the college. They will be the major deciders of the curriculum and approve budgets. No need for a student council if the students run the place.

This is a rare opportunity for the youth of Ada and Canyon counties to make history for a good cause. Better act now because the deadline for filing is September 2. For details contact the CWIelection official:

Cheryl Wright
5500 E University Way,
Nampa ID 83687
Phone: 562-3299

Monday, August 18, 2008

Caldwell has Cart Before the Horse, Groundbreaking for TVCC and No Financial Agreements Exist?

THE GUARDIAN received this beautiful invitation to the ground breaking ceremony for TVCC in Sky Ranch. We did a public records request for the financial arrangements with the developer, City of Caldwell, TVCC and the Caldwell Urban Renewal District and got a letter back from the city attorney, Mark Hilty, stating that no such documents exist.

How does a multi-million dollar project get started without any financial documents or agreements? And why aren't these financials out for the public to review? Short answer is sneaky government.

The smell of major taxpayer financial decisions getting made in the room the public never gets to visit or see is what is wrong with this deal. Property taxes will pay for this project and yet we don't get to see the terms and condtions. Our city deciders have circumvented the public process once again.

So, let's all get together and cheer the momentous groundbreaking where our tax dollars are going to be spent without any public approvals. This is yet another back room under the table act by our elected leaders of Caldwell and the Urban Renewal District telling us what is good for us. They decide and we get to keep quiet and pay the bills.

It appears that our Caldwell City Deciders and the Mayor have the cart before the horse.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

College of Western Idaho Glitterati Exclude "unwashed masses" from Meetings

By David Frazier, Boise Guardian

Shame On CWI Apartheid Meeting Plans.

The fledgling College of Western Idaho–approved by voters last year–is about to get off on the wrong foot with plans to have “invitation only” meetings to gather information to shape the future of the college.

It is inappropriate, demeaning, and illegal to hold meetings with “common citizens” in public and then conduct a similar set of closed meetings with the elite “community and business leaders and elected officials.”

Such “back room” strategy of apartheid is offensive to the GUARDIAN and exemplifies all that is wrong with local politics in Idaho. It is a slap in the face to the majority of citizens who voted to tax themselves–only to be excluded from the REAL decision making process. Even if it is an “innocent oversight,” it is shameful to even contemplate private meetings with the rich and powerful. At least their decision was based on money and power rather than race.

Nice gesture to meet the public Aug. 21 at 7pm in the Nampa Civic Center and then again at the Boise Center on the Grove at 7pm Aug. 28. However, Idaho’s Open Meeting Law demands TOTAL ACCESS, even to those of us who are not of the privileged minority known as “community and business leaders.”

The Chamber of Commerce can limit their meetings to Idaho Elite, but a government funded and managed institution of higher learning must abide by the Open Meeting Law.

Shame on CWI officials for even contemplating the idea of excluding those of who pay their salaries from a “deliberation” aimed at shaping the future of students who may someday attend the school.

Thanks to the Daily Paper for publishing the plans for “apartheid meetings.” CWI didn’t send us that press release.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Mayor Car Expenses in the Valley

THE GUARDIAN could not help but notice the car allowance number for Mayor Nancolas of Caldwell who has a whopping $10,000.00 car allowance a year. So, a quest for further knowledge of what the mayors in the valley are allowed for vehicle use will be posted as they are received

The first response received is from the fair city of Meridian, Idaho. The response is exactly as received from the good people at Meridian City Hall:

"Mr. Allredge:

The City of Meridian provides Mayor de Weerd with a car for her use as well as the fuel and maintenance of the vehicle. For FY09 the City has budgeted $825 for fuel, $500 for maintenance, and $500 for repair of the vehicle. The Mayor is taxed on her personal use of the vehicle at $190.26 per month. I hope this answers your questions."

The following response was received from the city of Boise regarding Mayor Dave Bieter's vehicle budget allowance.

"Dear Paul,

Thank you for your inquiry regarding Mayor Bieter's vehicle allowance for the next budget year which begins October 1, 2008. Mayor Bieter does not receive a vehicle allowance nor does he receive mileage reimbursement for driving his personal vehicle when he is on City of Boise business.

Your request for information has also been forwarded to the City Clerk for the City of Boise as your request is considered a Public Records request."

Mayor Tom Dale of Nampa claimed $4,080 last year in mileage for his personal vehicle expenses.

Update from Caldwell City Finance Director 8-20-2008

Mayor Nancolas vehicle reinbursement:
Mayor Nancolas was reimbursed $9,000 for 19,852 miles driven in his personal vehicle conducting city and public business in 2007. That is $ .453 per mile and is below the federal mileage rate of $ .485. Mayor Nancolas pays all vehicle expenses and the city saves the cost of a new vehicle and has placed responsibility to maintain the vehicle on Mayor Nancolas. The city has no liability if the vehicle is wrecked or abused. The point that you are missing is that mileage reimbursements are not money makers to the recipients they are simply cost reimbursements. Garret spent most if not all of the $9,000 he received on vehicle expenses, repairs and purchase. The city would have to pay similar amounts if it provided a vehicle to the Mayor. Please tell me how much you would expect the city to reimburse you for driving 19,852 miles. I'll bet your request would exceed $9,000.

City of Eagle... city owned vehicle that stays at city hall and they budget $1,000 per year for fuel and maintenance. Mayor of Eagle drives his own car to and from city hall with no mileage expenses billed to the city.

Caldwell Guardian And Others on Front Page of Statesman

Dave Frazier, aka Boise Guardian wrote the following:

The Daily Paper did a front page story Thursday featuring the Caldwell GUARDIAN and others who work to keep local governments accountable.

Paul Alldredge, our Caldwell alter ego, looks stern in the picture, but he has done a great job providing a forum for discussion of local government action and spending. He shares the GUARDIAN name, much of our philosophy, and often shares information with us.

Check out the STATESMAN STORY by reporter Kristin Rodine. The Boise GUARDIAN of course is mentioned and we like to think we are more of a “liberal big brother,” but we don’t live in Canyon County either.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Canyon County Budget Meeting Set for Wednesday

Canyon County’s budget hearing will be held Wednesday, Aug. 13, at 6 p.m. in the Commissioners Meeting Room on the first floor of the courthouse in Caldwell.

The public is invited to attend the meeting and give testimony regarding the county’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.

At $78,894,812, the tentative budget is a 5 percent decrease over the Fiscal Year 2008 budget, and will decrease the levy rate by an estimated 1.5 percent. Only 48 percent of the budget will be funded by property tax dollars; the rest will come from fees, grants, etc. Among the larger items included in the tentative budget is $4.1 million, which will be used to purchase land adjacent to Pickles Butte Sanitary Landfill to be used both to expand the landfill and for Jubilee Park, where recreationists can continue to utilize the existing landscape for ATV, motorcycle, horseback riding and other activities. Money for the purchase comes from the landfill’s Enterprise Fund and not from tax dollars. Other large items in the budget are $2 million for construction of water and sewer lines to the new jail site on Highway 20/26; $1.25 million for the purchase of the Labor Department building; $615,000 to construct the Crossroads Museum, which will be funded by grants; $2.7 million for an E-911 digital trunked radio, also grant-funded, and $964,742 for employee merit increases and salary adjustments.

The largest portion of the budget, or 49 percent, goes to public safety, while welfare accounts for 4 percent, public works (weed control and solid waste) for 10 percent and judicial for 7 percent. General government, which includes the clerk’s office, commissioners, treasurer, assessor, courthouse, information technology and human resources, accounts for 23 percent of the budget.

Because the preliminary budget has already been signed, this budget cannot be increased at Wednesday’s meeting, but can be decreased if the commissioners choose.

Canyon County Voting Survery at Fair Results

People who stopped by the Canyon County Elections Office’s booth at the county fair were able to learn about the new voting system, and were also able to answer survey questions which will be used by the county in future planning.

Of those who voted, 58 percent were female, and 82 percent were age 35 and older. Following are the results of the survey:

What is the most important issue facing Canyon County today?

Economy 32%
Growth 22%
Crime 19%
Education 14%
Traffic 3%
Other 3%

What do you like best about living in Canyon County?

Farm lifestyle 35%
The people 26%
Urban lifestyle 13%
Climate 8%
Scenery/terrain 8%
Recreational opportunities 7%
Other 3%

How safe do you feel living in Canyon County?

Very safe 18%
Safe 52%
Somewhat safe 27%
Unsafe 3%
Very unsafe 1%

How would overcrowding in the jail best be solved?

Pass a bond to build a new facility 36%
Remodel the existing facility 29%
Make inmates sleep on the floor 26%
Give shorter sentences 6%
No change is needed 3%

How should the county fund jail construction or upgrades?

A bond election 48%
With budgeted funds 46%
Local-option tax 7%

Should a local-option tax be used to expand the county jail?

Yes 24%
No 49%
Don’t know 27%

Where should motor vehicle offices be located?

Both Nampa and Caldwell 51%
A single, central location 39%
Don’t care 11%

Where do you recreate?

Lake Lowell only 13%
Gott’s Point only 0%
Lake Lowell and Gott’s Point 2%
Lake Lowell and Snake River 14%
Gott’s Point and Snake River .47%
All three locations 17%
None of these locations 53%

What do you think should be done with the Canyon County Fairgrounds?

Keep the existing location, but upgrade the facilities 52%
Build new facilities at a new location 21%
Keep the existing location 19%
Partner with Ada County to build a new fairgrounds 8%

How often do you vote?

Every election 79%
Every General Election 10%
Every Primary Election 1%
Occasionally 8%
Never 2%

How would you prefer to vote?

At your precinct on Election Day 70%
Early, at a specified polling location 6%
By mail 22%
Other 2%

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Caldwell City Councillor on TVCC Funding Scheme

Taken from the Boise Guardian

Caldwell City Councilor On TVCC Funding Scheme
Sunday, August 10th

A GUARDIAN reader inquired of a Caldwell City Councilor about the wisdom of the lease-purchase scheme about to be signed with Oregon’s Treasure Valley Community College without voter approval when the College of Western Idaho has yet to even open its doors.

Here–unedited–is the explanation she got from a Caldwell Councilor:
and I will give you a call with the rest of the story. The Guardian is a spin paper that spins stuff to create readership. Most of it is not accurate or does not explain the whole story.”

"This is true with a couple of interesting facts: The college of Western Idaho is funded by tax dollars. TVCC is funded with tuition and private enterprise with no tax dollars being used for the Caldwell Campus. Their classes with be geared to areas needed in the labor section. First ones out of the gate will be welding (which is already going on now—a joint program with Vallivue and TVCC) Fireman education and nursing are on the horizon. TVCC has been going for several years at the Mercado in Caldwell (by Larry Miller) with over 1,500 students.

The college of Western Idaho is still struggling to get going and has had to scale back their efforts because they promised to use only a certain per centage of tax dollars. They have found it very difficult to get buildings, etc. ready to go. Even with an initial infusion of several million dollars from the State to start they are a long ways from being viable.

The City has been working on TVCC for over 5 years. TVCC has been slow to come around because they are an Oregon institute and must stand on their own with funds, etc. in Idaho. They get no support from Idaho tax dollars or from Oregon.

Thus, they have been test driving the waters for the last several years and are now ready to proceed. The biggest drawback we have as to having business locate here is our labor force so this will be a great boost for all. I could go on and on, but this is probably more than you want to know.

This is very positive and won’t cost you money. There is so much demand for this schooling that there is room for both schools and more. Oh yes, the College of Idaho is very much in favor of this happening.

If you want to know more, email again

Our GUARDIAN reader finds it difficult to understand why the city is involved at all if, “it won’t cost you money” (why doesn’t TVCC just go to a builder with its tuition money and leave the city out of the loop?” Now that we have the “truth” from the City Council, we hope readers will have a better picture of WHY the city is pulling for the out of state TVCC and not offering to help College of Western Idaho.
The lease-purchase deal set to be signed August 27 will indeed be funded by taxes on the appreciated value of property within the Urban Renewal District–without voter approval.

Editor note: The above email was sent to The Boise Guardian, David Frazier, by one of his readers. The Caldwell City Councilor who wrote the above is anyone's guess at this juncture. The bond election for College of Western Idaho failed in Canyon County, votes from Ada County gave the bond a super majority of 2/3 rds.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

TVCC Project Raises Questions About Long Term Debt for Taxpayers

THE GUARDIAN attended the Chamber of Commerce Lunch at the College of Idaho yesterday and learned about the new TVCC campus to be built in Caldwell.

The plan to get this Oregon based campus up and running is a financial maze of convoluted ownerships and leases and lease purchase agreements. To the best of our knowledge here is the scoop:

1. The East Caldwell Urban Renewal District owns the land for the project.

2. Norfleet Development LC (Butch Gilliland) will build the building and improvements on urban renewal property and lease the building back to the urban renewal district.

Typically, these contracts have a clause that say taxes will be passed through to the lessee should the issue arise. There will be taxes due on the PRIVATE COMMERCIAL RENTAL building under Idaho Law. A very good deal for the developer, as he will get a guaranteed rent for his building, a guaranteed buyer, TAX FREE during the life of the lease arrangement.

3. TVCC will lease the building at a highly reduced rate while the urban renewal district (funded by property taxes) does the heavy financial lifting on the deal with full "lease/purchase" payments to Norfleet for the building and improvements.

4. At the end of the East Urban Renewal District life there will be a balloon payment to Norfleet for several millions of dollars for the balance due on the cost of the building and the improvements. A long term debt by any other name is still a LONG TERM DEBT.

5. Concurrent at the end of the urban renewal district life, a deed for the property, buildings and improvements will be handed over to the city of Caldwell. A PURCHASE WITHOUT PERMISSION OF CALDWELL CITIZENS. Caldwell will then become the landlord to TVCC.

6. Mayor Nancolas has assured THE GUARDIAN that this is under a simple annual lease and the urban renewal/city can walk away at the end of any years renewal time on the lease (known as a "non-appropriation" clause). However, the lease payments apply to the purchase price so this is in reality a "purchase". Think Canyon County Decider's and the Jerome property "lease deal" and the mess the Commishes found themselves in over this transaction.

Questions arise about how Article 8 section 3 of the Idaho Constitution applies to this project and long term debt for taxpayers. It appears that public assets are being pledged as security for the lease.

Who owns the land once the building is built?

If the developer owns the building then he is liable for property taxes under Idaho Law without regard to who occupies the property. (Same situation happened in Boise with some Fire Stations under the Brent Coles Administration.) The entity holding title is on the hook for property taxes unless both parties agree to have the "lessee" (urban renewal district, city of Caldwell, and TVCC) pay the taxes.

If there should be a default by either the urban renewal district or the developer, who will own the land/buildings/improvements?

This project has all the earmarks of the Ada County Courthouse on it. Property taxpayer's are going to be on the hook if and when the deal tanks.

The real question here is ...why is this not getting put up for a bond election? THE GUARDIAN can think of no school project that has been built without a bond election. Secondly, how does the yet to be constructed, but bond election approved College of Western Idaho fit into the scheme of things?

Right now TVCC, based in Ontario, Oregon, is fully funded by student tuition fees by local students. The plan is to keep it in that mode by the TVCC people. The murkiness of this comes into play with the financial arrangements and cross ownerships and lease underwriting by the city of Caldwell and the "alter ego" of the city, known to you as the Caldwell East Urban Renewal District.

It will be interesting to see the actual draft and final documents on this matter. Details will be provided when they show up.

THE GUARDIAN welcomes and will provide space to the "Decider's" of this project if we have any of this incorrect. THE GUARDIAN was offered the contract AFTER it is scheduled to be signed on the 27th of this month--which is far too late to shed the light of public scrutiny on a convoluted financial deal worthy of Fannie, Freddie, The Idaho Housing and Financial Association and the big city of Boise and Ada County politicos.


Monday, August 4, 2008

Caldwell Mayor's Budget Expenses $198,000.00

THE GUARDIAN made it his business to sit in on a budget meeting as the numbers were getting crunched with various departments this year. Main motivation was the 54% increase in assessed valuation on the place I call home.

In the budget summary handouts received, THE GUARDIAN noted $198k under the total expenses for the mayor. The number sounded very high for just one person. A detail of that budget was requested and sent to me for review by the city finance director.

The Mayor's actual salary is $69,198, also under the "package" is $20,000 "employe performance pay" in the amount of $100 to $300 bonus checks for employees handed out by the Mayor, $10,000 car allowance for the mayor, on top of a fringes and benefits package of $25,425.

Next, is the area of maintenance and operation expenses for the Mayor. This section of the Mayor's budget comes to $72,700. Expenses listed under this part of the Mayor's M & O budget are: $10,000 for an employee appreciation banquet, travel budget of $14,000, community relations $32,500, Mayor's youth advisory council $12,500, dues and associations $2,500.

THE GUARDIAN sent a copy of Idaho Attorney Generals Opinion 78-44 to the city finance director suggesting that the city attorney review the opinion suggesting that some of the items listed under the mayor may not rise to an "ordinary and necessary expense" nor do they serve a "corporate or public purpose". The response to this advisory was to move the employee appreciation banquet amount of $10,000 into the employee performance pay section of the Mayor's budget monies. THE GUARDIAN received a "thank you" from the city finance director for pointing out that the $10,000expense was not in the right heading. There would be no banquet this year and the $10k would now go directly for "merit" opportunities in the form of $100-$300 bonus checks to city employees.

Next area of concern is the Mayor's Youth Advisory Council expenses and travel at taxpayer expense. Taking groups of young adults and other adults out of town at taxpayer expense is a concern. The Youth Advisory Group is not a publicly elected body. What is the corporate or public purpose of the expenses and trips charged to taxpayers by this group? The amount budgeted this year is $12,500 for the Youth Advisory Council. Trips have been taken to Washington DC, Louisiana, San Jose, Reno and other cities subsidized by taxpayer dollars. In addition, other expenses are charged to the taxpayers for this group.

The final budget hearing is scheduled to be tonight after the regular city council meeting.

EDITOR NOTE: The final budget approvals by the city council will take place on 8-18-08. There will be a presentation of the Caldwell budget at the Chamber of Commerce lunch today by the Mayor.