Tracking code caldwell guardian

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

$7MM TVCC Cat Comes Out of Bag One Leg At A Time

THE GUARDIAN received his November 2009 copy of the Caldwell East Urban Renewal Agency minutes yesterday and TVCC downtown building will cost Caldwell taxpayers $7 million in non-voter approved spending. Also, Mayor Nancolas just back from a junket to the National League of Cites has provided insight into what we need to have to please developers in the second paragraph. He seems to have forgotten about rooftops in the community as number 4 in his list to attract developers. We would also remind Mayor Nancolas about the voter approved CWI community college we all got to vote on but no vote on TVCC.

Below are a copy of the CEURA minutes for your reveiw:

C/CEDC Activity Report was not available.

Chris Yamamoto, Downtown Redevelopment Director, provided an update on the downtown catalyst project. The project is on schedule; concrete will be poured this week, the steel is on order, and visible structure will be in place by the first of the year or sooner. Preliminary plans indicate the potential for a Gold LEEDS Certification. Chris raised the subject of a parking permit process to protect parking for downtown businesses. Ample parking will be available within three blocks of the TVCC building. Street patrols, downtown signage and student parking permits are several options being discussed.

Mayor Nancolas informed the board that during his recent national conference, the message heard repeatedly from big developers is that they are looking for three things when considering communities for development projects: 1) a community college, 2) an Urban Renewal Agency and 3) an active downtown revitalization plan. Caldwell is on the right track for downtown success.

Chairman Waite presented the Oppenheimer project letter prepared by Mark Hilty, Attorney, for review and approval. The letter establishes CEURA’s acceptance of the TVCC project and acknowledges CEURA’s involvement and project costs to date. The project budget is estimated at $7,000,000. Attorneys for Oppenheimer and urban renewal are working on the building lease agreement. Motion to accept the letter of agreement between Oppenheimer and CEURA: Hopper/Fouts M/S/P"

The "game plan" as we understand it from previous disucssion with Mr. Eljay Waite is the City/UR will own the property, the UR agency will lease the property from Oppenheimer and will then sublease the building to TVCC at a much reduced cost. The $325k/year they send back to Oregon apparently is not enough to extract from Caldwell. The real question here is how are they going to figure out who gets to pay and how much for the property taxes required by Idaho Law. City/UR may own the land but Oppenheimer will own the building and will have to pay property taxes.

Caldwell property taxes are 25.5% higher all over the area due to the amounts Urban Renewal skims right off the top. You will be getting your property tax bills this week so you can figure out how much Caldwell East Urban Renewal is costing you each year. The short math is $255.00/$1k of your tax bill.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Where Does State Revenue Come From?

The following is a summary of where the revenue comes from to finance the Idaho State Government. It was lifted from the website for your review.

State Totals $2,377,190,000

Individual Income Tax $1,137,130,000
Corporate Income Tax $132,110,000
Sales Tax $963,300,000
Products & Misc. $144,650,000

No wonder Idaho is such a business friendly state,the bulk of state revenue comes from Individual Income Taxes and Sales Taxes. Nearly 90% (89.86%) of the state revenue comes from the working people of Idaho. Corporate Income Tax is a paltry 5.5%. How much more business friendly must we be to attract more and better jobs for Idaho citizens? Add to the corporate income tax structure the right to work law and Idaho is over the top business friendly.

It will be no fun for state legislators this year, given the cutbacks and shortage of cash while the banker induced recession drags on and on. We all need to be thankful the framers of the Idaho Constitution required a balanced budget or we would be whipping out the "GOLD CARDS" to finance budget shortfall. You take in a dollar you can spend a dollar is how it has worked since day one. We view that as a good thing for the citizens of Idaho. It is the one check and balance on people who would spend money we don't have.

It will be interesting to see what gets cut and gored out of the system this year.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Jail Woes Put Jail Bed Costs on Sale! Hurry Before Sale Ends

What a deal! It must be Christmas and Black Friday for Jail Beds. Canyon County just got to rent jail beds for $40/day. It now costs Canyon County $84/day to run our jail per comments made by Commissioner Kathy Alder to a public service group last week.

Jail bond costs were going to be $10,000/day ($3.6 Million a year) just to pay back the interest and principle on the loan. THE GUARDIAN would submit to the Commishes they need to consider renting all the jail beds they can for $40/day. This is a 52% mark down from what it now costs us per bed to run our own jail.

It currently costs $9.1 million a year to operate the Canyon County Jail. That comes to $24,931.50 per day, 365 days a year. $40/day for jail beds is a bargain no matter how you look at it. The bond repayment costs of $10k/day will fund the county buying 250 additional beds per day. Until we reach that point contract beds make sense. Especially when you read in the paper they are leaving 58 beds empty out of the 296 available. Jails are big expensive facilities that will bleed taxpayers dry if not managed properly. You can't ignore maintenance and cleanliness and not expect to get a lawsuit from the ACLU.

We present this for people to consider as we move into the next phase of trying to sell the voting public a new jail. The costs of $84/day per bed are for real and are a costly reminder of how much justice can we afford. THE GUARDIAN has also taken note we now have five times more people in this country than we did 30 years ago. The reason is President Nixon's WAR ON DRUGS. We have far too many non-violent people in jails and prisons and are bumping up against what taxpayers are willing to shell out for incarceration costs. There is a disconnect between the taxpayers, sheirff, prosecutor and the judges. Jail is not always the best option and it is time Canyon County got serious about other options to jail for low level offenders.

We now have 13 states that have decriminalized marijuana sales and possession. They have instituted medical marijuana laws. Oregon has proposal to legalize drugs will be out next week for legislative debate. California wants to tax cannabis at the rate of $50/oz and the proponents say it will raise $1.3 billion to the State Treasury. The President has instructed the Feds to leave medical marijuana sales locations alone if they are in compliance with their respective state laws. Point is, the WAR ON DRUGS is a complete failure. The political will to keep people locked up for drug use is getting called into question all over the country as the recession deepens and money for running prisons and jails dries up.

Mandatory sentencing is also getting called out for review by the Federal Government. California and their Three Strikes Laws are under scrutiny. The Economist magazine this week has an extensive article on the subject of people getting little to no punishment for the use of drugs in Europe. It is handled for the most part with fines and citations that go to support drug rehab and deterrence programs. On the average 0.2% of people charged with drug violations end up in prisons or jails and the sentences run from a few days to a average maximum of 20 months. Contrast that with the State of Texas where they have people in prison for 99years on marijuana charges.

It may be time to rethink the drug problems in Idaho. Billions of taxpayer dollars wasted on the Drug War since the Nixon years. Sentencing laws aimed at drug kingpins are routinely used against low level offenders and have filled prisons and jails.

One last comment on jails. They are also used as repositories for mentally ill people. In the 1980's President Reagan emptied out the mental hospitals and "mainstreamed" mentally ill people. The reality is these people had no safety net and ended up in jails and prisons. It is far cheaper to keep them in mental custodial care than in jails and prisons. We have got to figure out a better way to deal with this segment of society.

Final note, the Commishes get to fork over $190,000 of our tax dollars to the ACLU for their mismanagement of the Canyon County Jail. This is the final negotiated legal costs of ignoring their responsibility to provide a humane, clean, safe environment for inmates. Think of it as a $520/day surcharge on jail operations for the next year. The price paid for the lesson learned in jail costs and management by the Commishes.

Team Tom Stalled on Police Building In Downtown Nampa

Mayor Dale and the Urban Renewal crew are, for the moment, stalled out on building a new police station and library for the city of Nampa without voter approvals. Team Tom is content to not have voters weigh in on the projects and wants to cloak the project and stop all voter involvement via the Nampa Development Corporation (aka Urban Renewal).

THE GUARDIAN reported earlier this Summer Mayor Dale and his Chief of Police paid a visit to the Commishes trying to get them to agree to a long term lease of "Class A" office space for lease costs of $20/square foot. Now it is getting reported in the local paper they wanted to sell the county the entire second floor of the building for $2.65 Million. In any event the Commissioners wisely backed away from the offer from Team Tom as it would have been a violation of the Idaho Constitution to enter into a long term contract without a vote of the people.

Article 8 Sec. 3 of the Idaho Constitution forbids going into debt beyond one budget cycle for any debt, liability or obligation. Commissioner Ferdinand pointed this out to Team Tom when they paid their visit to 115 Albany this past Summer.

The deal would have entailed handing over the newly remodeled Canyon County Annex to the city of Nampa so they could tear it down for a parking lot. They would have received a $900,000 "credit" good for the first years rent on the new digs. Again, the Commishes wisely backed off this deal.

In the interim, the Supreme Court has now decided the cities must reimburse the counties for their costs of holding court in the cities where they operate separate courtrooms from the courthouse locations. We don't know if the Commishes have made a move on handing the city of Nampa a bill for the costs of running the Nampa Annex to Team Tom or not.

THE GUARDIAN has Team Tom bottled up in the Supreme Court for the moment with his Urban Renewal scheme to get around Nampa voters. There is another case in Rexburg that is similar and if Mr. Ken Hart wins his case against Rexburg's Urban Renewal Agency the Nampa case will also go down for the count against Nampa.

Meanwhile, we all wait and hope citizens and voters are put back into the capital budgeting process of our cities via bond elections. Mayor Tom has no faith in the people of Nampa supporting the police station and library projects and simply will not allow citizens to vote on the projects.

It has been reported to THE GUARDIAN the Mac's Toys and Hobbies building with 43,000 square feet of space is on the market for $943,000. It is high time our elected Politcos figure out we need to start recycling buildings. Boise Police and Fire figured this one out and have some really nice new digs and a very low cost to the taxpayers. The Mac's building could be purchased and recycled with a serial levy that would raise Nampa property taxes for just two years and the coppers and fire guys would have all the space they need close to the new freeway interchange.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Freedom of Information Not So Free In Caldwell

THE GUARDIAN is finding freedom of information is not so free in the City of Caldwell. We have filed several public records requests asking to see the due diligence records with the TVCC project and the relationship with Oppenheimer Development.

The city clerk has send us several resolutions passed by the Caldwell City Council but nothing on what we asked to review. Idaho Code 9-338 says all public records are , well public. So far it has been a cat and mouse game with the city clerk, the city finance director and the mayor's office. They keep suggesting we ask for the information in a more specific way. All of this cat and mouse stuff is reminds us of the weave and dodge responses people used to encounter at the Canyon County Courthouse prior to Mr. Bujack taking office as County Prosecutor.

We have asked to review all the letters, emails and documents related to the downtown catalyst project, aka TVCC and the financial arrangements with the City, Caldwell East Urban Renewal Agency and Oppenheimer Development. We have been met with no such records exist other than the four resolutions passed by the City Council per the city clerk. Now we all know a project with $10 million of taxpayer money on the line has a lot of files and paperwork involved. Question is..why won't they give it up? We have asked twice in the last week to review these documents in a room at city hall. We aren't even asking for copies to be made. The good people at city hall have retreated to the "cone of silence".

The city is also denying the recent termination of Assistant Caldwell Fire Chief Douglas Brown when a reporter for the Idaho Press Tribune asked about this. We have not been able to determine what the alledged reasons are for Mr. Brown's termination. THE GUARDIAN learned this weekend Brown has been placed on adminsitrative leave until the termination papers are finalized. The Idaho Press Tribune reporter filed a public records request regarding the departure of Mr. Brown. We can only hope the good people at city hall decide to give the IPT the information the have requested.

The public has a right to know what is going on at Caldwell City Hall and legal requests are getting denied by the city clerk.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Coupon Clippers, A Lesson In Economics

THE GUARDIAN had the pleasure of meeting with Wayne Hoffman of the Idaho Freedom Foundation today. Mr. Hoffman is a very interesting guy with lots of insights into the workings of pork and waste in our government at all levels.

The following was taken from his website and we think it sums up what is going on in Nampa with their urban renewal projects for a new Police Station and Library, Caldwell with their TVCC urban renewal project, Boise with the Trolly Folly and Canyon County with their failed Jail Bond Election.

"A lesson in economics: If you don't buy Fruit Loops, clipping a coupon for a dollar off of Fruit Loops doesn’t actually save money. Sure, the coupon lets you buy cereal for some amount less than you would have, but you’re still spending money you may not have to spend.

State legislators, county commissioners, school board members and city councilmen are coupon clippers, and the federal government is the Sunday newspaper, famous for offering all sorts of great deals to the policymaker in search of a bargain."

Our elected Politcos at all levels are spending us into oblivion. The Federal Debt is now increasing at the rate of $5 Billion a day. The local politicos want to exacerbate the plight of taxpayers without a vote in any manner they can get away with. And when we tell them NO, when we vote they don't think we really mean it.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Regional Jails Could Solve Overcrowding Woes

Regional Jail Could Solve Crowding Woes
November 9, 2009 by David R. Frazier

Instead of asking Canyon voters to pony up for a new jail, we would suggest that Sheriff Chris Smith follow his own advice and go for a regional jail somewhere near the Ada-Canyon county line.

Smith is an advocate of regional jails and wrote an article for the Idaho Sheriff’s Association Magazine on the subject. You can chek out Smith's article on the Idaho Sheriff's website as well.

Done right, Ada, Canyon, and the Idaho Dept. of Corrections could join forces and save everyone a lot of money and provide a secure facility to house longer term offenders who have been sentenced or await trial unable to post bond. The idea is to build a facility that won’t require daily traffic back and forth to court. It would take a joint powers agreement and probably operate on a “per bed” basis for operating costs.

Voters from each county would need to approve the long term debt (bonds), but with two counties sharing the burden, it should be very affordable and appeal to voters…not unlike the College of Western Idaho vote as we see it.

Ada Sheriff Gary Raney is onboard Smith’s idea in principal and notes he will soon need additional space in his jail. Both lawmen are eagerly awaiting one of those infamous “feasibility studies” on the topic of “Regional Offender Management Centers”–JAILS to crooks and non-coppers. The study, being conducted by a BSU professor will undoubtedly endorse the concept. The trick will be in the politics of getting two counties and the state to buy in.

We like the idea and can’t understand why Smith didn’t push for it instead of trying to build his own jail. What with illegal land purchases, expenditure of funds for a new jail BEFORE the bond was voted upon, a lawsuit by the ACLU which is billing Canyon about $193,000 for legal expenses, and coppers campaigning on government time, the stand alone Canyon jail as proposed was doomed to fail.

It was sold as a scare tactic to keep bad guys from being turned lose on society, but we doubt they opened the jailhouse doors to many dangerous crooks. Based on booking records we saw, there were a lot of driver’s license and insurance offenders who got jailed.

Smith’s plan for a regional jail for Ada and Canyon County deserves to be considered BEFORE another bond election or the idea will never get voter approval.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

35 Square Miles of Canyon County As Enterprise Zone?

THE GUARDIAN could not help but notice the full page ad in the IPT this Sunday about 35 square miles of prime agricultural land about to be put on the block as an ENTERPRISE ZONE. The Coalition for Agriculture's Future paid for the advertisement and and did a really good job of defining the magnitude and boundaries of this effort.

Commissioner David Ferdinand states in a October 27, 2009 Idaho Statesman article he has been working on this for the past several years. THE GUARDIAN is always more than skeptical of things like this and is starting to openly question the jail project that would have run water and sewer line across the river to the "enterprise zone". The City of Caldwell was going to oversize the water and sewer lines at city taxpayer expense to the jail site. Now comes this huge enterprise zone project in the Sunday paper. Additionally, there was some talk of locating a huge sewer farm in the middle of the Enterprise Zone to service the cities of Notus, Parma, Wilder and Greenleaf.

Enterprise Zones typically operate with tons of tax credits, tax reductions, and outright gifts of land and infrastructure to businesses willing to locate in the ZONE. We have to ask ourselves if this is the new and improved way to get around voters in Idaho. Urban Renewal is under attack all over the state and the cracks are starting to get larger in their methods of bypassing voters for capital projects and incurring long term debt via revenue bonds.

The Coalition for Agriculture's Future is more than a little bit worried about the impact of this particular enterprise zone effort. They wisely and accurately point out that each acre of ag land in Canyon County taken out of production will cost our economy $9,000.00 per year. We have allowed a lot of unbridled development to happen in this valley and the thought of 35 more square miles ruined for ag production is difficult for most people to imagine.

The following is a critique of Enterprise Zones taken from Wikipedia:

"The general critique of Enterprise Zones is whether the system of tax-breaks and easing of planning regulations (as has occurred in Asia, notably in free trade zones of Singapore and Hong Kong where Hall was looking for inspiration in the 1970s) can transition successfully into sustainable economic growth as the Zone is wound down, or whether by special pleading or inertia, breaks and incentives remain in place to stop 'capital flight'. A persistence of low-wage jobs, rapid turnover of firms, little inward investment, or persistent subsidy to enterprise, would not indicate a successful transition.

In the UK, a Government-commissioned evaluation in 1987 found that from 1981 to 1986 the enterprise zones had cost nearly £300 million, but 2,800 firms were established in them, employing over 63,000 people. Taking local transfers into account, only 13,000 net jobs had been created; a possible reason why the Government began to prefer urban development corporations as its main vehicle for urban renewal.[2] However, a notable success has been the London Docklands, now a financial and media powerhouse but largely derelict and with unsatisfactory transport infrastructure thirty years ago when a Zone was first established."

Canyon County has for years marketed itself to the world as the land of cheap dirt, cheap labor, and cheap housing. Are we now ready for a new influx of cheap high turnover industries with more low paying jobs for our citizens? More importantly, who will pay for the infrastrutcture costs for police, fire protection, schools, water, sewer, streets and sewer capacity in an area where none exists today.

We invite Canyon County Commisioner David Ferdinand or anyone else close to this to explain it to us taxpayers of Canyon County and how costs and benefits to our economy will actually happen.

We all know we need more and better jobs for people of this valley but is this Enterprise Zone the right approach and what are the details.

Editor note: We got a response from Commissioner Alder on Enterprise Zones stating that all of this is in the preliminary talking stages and to try and stay positive and this concept moves forward. We would like to thank Comm. Alder for her quick response to our inquiry about Enterprise Zones and the 35 squre miles currently under discussion with the Federal Govt.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

How Much Does Caldwell Urban Renewal Cost All Of Us?

THE GUARDIAN asked Caldwell's Finance Director how much the impact of Urban Renewal has on all property taxes in Caldwell and got the following answer in December of 2008.

Caldwell property taxes are 22% higher in Caldwell and everyone in Canyon County pays 3.5% more due Caldwell East Urban Renewal Agency. The total amount all Caldwell citizens pay to subsidize Urban Renewal is 25.5%.

All county taxpayer's taxes are 3.5% higher due to Caldwell's Urban Renewal Agency. It is unknown how much more we all pay due to Nampa's Urban Renewal Agency. (Think taxation without representation here.)

When you get your property tax bills this month look at it as a 25.5% involuntary contribution to the urban renewal board to spend as they please with no voter oversight. Proponents would argue it gives the UR boards money to spend on capital projects for the community that would not otherwise get built.

To be sure, there are some worthwhile projects done by CEURA but there are projects that clearly should have voter oversight. Indian Creek got $8 million the YMCA got over $10 Million and continues to get $1 Million every year. Now TVCC, an Oregon base school for profit (they send $$325k/year back to Oregon from Caldwell Ops.)will be the benefactors of nearly $10 Million of Caldwell property tax dollars.

Caldwell currently has unemployment numbers well into double digits. The last numbers posted by the Department of Labor put us at 13% and climbing along with home foreclosures up well over 50% from last years numbers. The Politicos just can't understand why we don't want to pay more taxes for big dollar projects. Especially when we don't get vote on the project in question.

Meanwhile, the tax and spend crew continue to spend money like there is no tomorrow or day of accounting to the public for all the money they have spent with no voter oversight.

Team Garret was more than happy to let job producing big box stores skip over to Nampa and bypass Caldwell. One has to ask just how many jobs have been created with the money they have spent on the YMCA, Indian Creek and now TVCC. $30 Million for these three projects is not chump change for a community the size of Caldwell.

Stationary things have been taxed to the limits of most people's ability to pay. Is it any wonder people won't authorize a bond election for a new jail? The fluff projects have sucked us dry.

When you get your property tax bills this month please take note of how much lower they would be without Urban Renewal. $25.5% lower property taxes is not an insignificant amount of money to most folks who live in Caldwell. We doubt we will see lower property taxes when Urban Renewal expires in 2013.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Post Election Analysis

The low voter turnout in Caldwell screams NOBODY CARES (Or maybe only 34% care)! Given the clear choices between the incumbents and the challengers along with the unbelievable minority who took the time and effort to actually vote. We don't hold much hope out for Caldwell ever pulling out of the doldrums it has been stuck in for the past 30 years or so.

Team Garret remains in tact and it looks like we will be getting a community college in our downtown nobody really asked for like it or not. If they hold to the previously published schedule ground will begin to be broken for this $10 Million boondoggle around mid-December. Meanwhile, Caldwell remains a city where nobody wants to be the retail pioneer and large retail concerns will continue to bypass Caldwell. People seem to be happy with the status of bedroom community to Nampa and Ada County. The Urban Renewal people have to be very happy with the election results.

Meanwhile, Caldwell East Urban Renewal Agency inflates the property tax levy by 25.5%and they will continue to spend millions and millions with no voter oversight. Right now that sandbox of cash amounts to about $6 Million each year right off the top of all property taxes collected in Caldwell.

The Jail bond failed by about the same margin it failed in 2006. The question here is if the Commishes have the ability to figure out the people of Canyon County are not willing or able to finance a $46 Million facility with a potential payback of interest and principle of $72Million. They did not buy into the notion that you can operate two jails as cheaply as one. They might stand a chance if they pull this thing back into the area around the courthouse and make the price more affordable. Right now the chances of another vote passing in six months is probably nil.

Nampa likes Tom Dale and the incumbents as well. It has been reported to THE GUARDIAN the Supreme Court arguments will be held on the Rexburg swimming park case on November 5th in Twin Falls. If the Supremes decide in favor of the Rexburg project it will mean Mr. Dale will will have an uphill battle to prevail in the Nampa Urban Renewal case. Mr. Dale wants to spend $68 Million on a new police station and library with no vote of the people of Nampa.

In Boise the $60 Million Trolley Folly will continue to roll down the tracks, spend money on a project nobody wants. Nor will the trolly project actually go anwhere as a valid transit vehicle. Streets will be torn up and tracks laid down with no vote of the people of Boise.

The majority who stayed home have once again handed over the election to those who were willing to make the effort to get up and get themselves to their polling place and actually cast a vote. The turnout was pretty absymal for this valley when you look at the actual turn out for the elections.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Pre-Election Analysis

Today is the day we all get to decide on the incumbents up for election as well as the jail bond. It will be interesting to see how much interest there is in this election. Typically, only people who are adamantly for or against take the time to show up at the polls to actually cast a vote. Those who don't care tend to stay home and really don't care one way or the other.

The jail bond may increase the turnout and who that will favor as far as city elections go is any ones guess. In the absence of scientific polling we will all get to wait it out until around 10:00PM for the actual results to be posted by the county clerk.

Every incumbent has an opponent in the elections this year in Caldwell and Nampa. The jail bond my actually draw a few more people to the polls. Early voting has been on the light side indicating not much interest in the election by the voters.

We would like to encourage people to exercise a hard won right for all and get out and make an informed vote on the issues and candidates. Polls close at 8:00PM today.