Tracking code caldwell guardian

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Idaho Center, The Mill Stone Around Nampa Taxpayers Neck

Ever since the tone deaf opening of the Idaho Center in 1996 with the lousy acoustics and the Moody Blues the Idaho Center has been bleeding Nampa Taxpayers for more and more money each year for the last 15 years.

 We learn today Mayor Tom in Nampa has been feeding money left from the first ill fated Urban Renewal district that built this massive drain on taxpayers back in 1996.  Yup.. all the money left over from the first urban renewal agency as well as the money allocated from the city general fund isn't enough to keep the place afloat.  The place is screaming for yet more money from taxpayers.

The Idaho Center has been open for 15 long years and to date nobody has been able to figure out how to keep the place open and paying its own way.  Venues using the Idaho Center come to town and rent the place for a couple of days, sell a bunch of tickets and leave town with all the cash.  Team Tom would try to tell us all that it is a "cost of building community" for the city to underwrite losses each year is a reasonable cost.

The price of poker at the Idaho Center just went up to a cool million a year.  This is the latest request from the private company managing the place.  Mayor Tom and his Team at city hall will try to spin this as a bargain for the citizens of Nampa.  Now they are looking at charging for; parking,  school use for graduation ceremonies (bet they retreat to the school gym before they fork over any cash), a surcharge on tickets for parking and on and on.

Bottom line is the place never should have been built and wouldn't have if it had been put up for a vote of the people.  They slid this in with no vote by way of Urban Renewal.  No voting, no oversight and now a huge annual debt hung on the backs of Nampa taxpayers.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Guv. Otter Self Storage Purchase A Mistake

Guv: Storage Business Purchase “Was A Mistake”
Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has withdrawn his support for a controversial Land Board decision to own and operate a commercial storage business.

The GUARDIAN revealed the state ownership–which competes directly with the private sector–in an EXCLUSIVE story last November.
Otter told the IDAHO REPORTER his support of the decision to invest in the private retail storage business was a mistake.
“I think that was a mistake. But, I’m the first to admit it. I sat right there and asked a bunch of questions about it. And, it’s not a mistake we’re ever likely to make again.” At the time of the decision the Guv’s office issued a STATEMENT defending the decision, noting it was made at a public meeting. They just forgot to tell us it “slipped by.”
Otter also told the REPORTER that he now prefers the state stay out of “direct competition” with the private sector, such as with the storage unit. “You know, that was just one that slipped by. Because I’ve heard from enough, I’m not going to tell you which board members, but I’ve heard from enough others that just said, ‘You know that was a mistake, we shouldn’t have done that.’”
While the GUARDIAN agrees with the Guv and others who think government should keep out of private business activities, it will be interesting to see how they spin this latest development. Otter says there are others on the Land Board who share his views.

$500k Block Grant For More Light Fixtures And Cosmetics for Downtown Corpse

 Caldwell is a city with lots of things to offer but is lacking in POLITICAL WILL to capitalize on what we have to offer.  Case in point would be the announcement in the IPT today about a $500K block grant.  To our knowledge there has been zero citizen input in how best to spend this money.  Instead, we have another proclamation from the city administrators. Our elected and appointed officials have decided to put this money into cosmetic improvements downtown.  No consideration has been given to putting that money into updating code deficiencies requirements that would make it attractive for new businesses to purchase, rent or locate in Downtown Caldwell.  

Caldwell is and remains a city without a vision or a plan.  We don't need to scab more pancake makeup onto the corpse of our downtown, investments in existing buildings that will make them economically attractive is what is needed.  Urban renewal should have and could have used their property tax money to  purchased junk buildings with no redemption and cleared them for new development and "renewal".  Other investments by urban renewal into buildings that are architecturally  sound but need to be brought up to code didn't happen either.  What we do have is a nice new building for TVCC that adds no value to the investment prospects of downtown for anyone with risk capital willing to invest in our community.  We are and remain a city without vision, leadership and a plan. We remain a city with one of the highest levy rates in the State of Idaho.  City officials will take the 3% tax increase allowed by law and shove it onto property owners already struggling to make ends meet.

It is time for citizens of Caldwell to give all this some thought and decide if we want more of the same or should we consider replacing three members of our city council this fall?  New people with new ideas can't be any worse than the status quo.

Nampa appears to already have a group of activists who are organizing to replace members of the Nampa City Council this next election and their mayor the next election cycle.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Why Does Nampa Have Separate Dispatch Center?

THE GUARDIAN has mulled the billings presented to cities in Canyon County for dispatch services and has come to the conclusion Nampa is greedy.  Nampa is duplicating a service for first responders already provided by the County Sheriff.  It is time to have some consideration for citizens and taxpayers footing the bill for this necessary service

 In the late 1990's Caldwell combined dispatch services as well as their records with the Canyon County Sheriff.   Caldwell Chief of Police Bob Sobba and then Sheriff George Nourse worked out the details of this and saved Caldwell and County taxpayers a bundle of cash.  Nampa has been approached numerous times about combining dispatch services by the current and past CCSO people to no avail. 

It is all about money, greed and a very self serving attitude by Nampa City and Police officials.  We disagree with the notion it is time for all cities other than Nampa to pony up for first responder dispatch services.  It is time to take a look at the cost and benefits of a combined dispatch center for all county residents.  Tight budgets and scarce tax dollars should make this a priority for all concerned.

Each phone line into homes as well as each cell phone has a 911 assessment charge against their phone bill each month.  This is a huge amount of money pouring into the entity in charge of 911 dispatch services.  Nampa is not about to let this revenue stream go even when it is in the best interests of the taxpayers. 

Canyon County has less than 200,000 people and it makes sense to consolidate dispatch services under the County Sheriff.  Dispatchers in a consolidated dispatch know where every first responder is at all times.  If time is of the essence then how does Nampa justify not combining dispatch services.  The closest responder may not be a Nampa copper, paramedic or other vital service.

The local paper published an oped piece on the Sheriff sending bills to each city for dispatch services, endorsing this nonsense.  We think this is just wrong.  Dispatching of first responders is a service that should be budgeted for via county taxes.  

More than half the county population lives within the city limits of Nampa.  Double billing Nampa via city and county taxes for dispatch services is not a fair deal for Nampa residents and taxpayers.  The real solution here is to combine Nampa dispatch services under the Canyon County Sheriff and save all taxpayers a a lot of money and cease all this duplication of effort with two dispatch centers.

We as citizens need to be paying attention to how our tax dollars get spent.  The new Nampa Police Station offers a perfect opportunity to consolidate dispatch services in the county and save us all some money.  Greed and a self serving approach to this by Nampa elected and appointed officials should be of concern to all residents of our county.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Motor Grader Memo and Lease Purchase Terms

Here is the Memo on the Motor Grader Purchase.. this time around the deal will comply with the strictures of the Idaho Constitution.  The City will pay the carrying charges until the next budget year and will pay the full purchase price in one budget year.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

City Angling to Make Illegal Lease-Purhase of John Deere Motor Grader

THE GUARDIAN noted item #16 in the Consent Calendar of the Caldwell City Council meeting on 6/6/2011.  It was regarding approval to lease-purchase a brand new John Deere 772GP motor grader. 

We have no quarrel with the need to keep our streets well maintained and this piece of equipment is not unreasonable to do the jobs carried out by our street department.  What is troubling is the manner in which this deal is moving forward.  Under Article 8 sec. 3 of the Idaho Constitution debts, liabilities or obligations going out beyond one budget cycle are not permitted.  We filed a public records request to see the lease-purchase documents and the request was denied by City Finance Director Eljay Waite.

Mr. Waite maintains the motor grader is "ordinary and necessary" and has ignored the Idaho Constitution. He does not have the legal authority to make that determination and  there is ample case law under Frazier v. City of Boise case law in 2004 and 2006 that clearly spells out what is and is not "ordinary and necessary".  This lease-purchase does not meet the criteria by any stretch of the imagination. The Idaho Constitution says Mr. Waite, has to come to the voters and ask our permission to enter into a long term contract such as this or they can choose to use the Judicial Confirmation process to stay withing the strictures of the Idaho Constitution.

The City of Caldwell has every right to simply lease this piece of equipment on a annually renewable lease with no ownership rights. However, when they choose to enter into a long term lease that will obligate future elected officials they have stepped over the line. They can also purchase it outright with cash up front for the deal.

A new John Deere motor grader will cost city taxpayers about $200,000.00 plus interest charges for the five years of the lease-purchase deal based on internet research on the cost of a new motor grader.  Once again your Idaho Constitutional rights are about to be trampled on and ignored by the city of Caldwell Finance Director and the blessing of the Caldwell City Council.  It need not happen when there are perfectly legal ways to swing this deal.

EDITOR NOTE:  We received the contract today (6-14-11) from the city attorney's office.  Sure enough there is a clause in the lease purchase stating the lessee can purchase the motorgrader for $1 at the end of the lease.  To be clear the City of Caldwell has not entered into a lease-purchase to our knowledge at this point in time. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Canyon County Corruption Continues in City of Nampa

Canyon County Corruption Continues

This time it is a Nampa City employee, but the pattern of government thievery apparently continues in Canyon County.
Nampa reports discovering $30,000 missing from deposits made on behalf of the city prior to March. The Ada County Prosecutor is investigating…since Nampa has had its own problems with a deal at the Canyon prosecutor office.
In recent memory we have reported on two crooks at the Canyon DMV office making off with a combined total of over $600,000, the sheriff’s posse bookkeeper stealing cash, the prosecutor pocketing cash, and other public employees terminated for dipping into the public honey pot.
The logical question is this: “Are there more crooks in Canyon local governments or do they just get caught more than in other jurisdictions?”

TVCC Coffee Shop Operator Will Not Renew "Lease"

Espresso/Deli Café Space Available

Caldwell Urban Renewal Agency seeks interested parties to lease a turn-key Espresso/Deli Café in the TVCC Building located in Caldwell.  Interested parties who respond by June 17, 2011 by 4:00 p.m. will be considered.  Responses may be mailed or delivered to , 117 South 9th Avenue, Suite #6, P.O. Box 668, Caldwell, ID   83606.

The above was attached to the Caldwell Urban Renewal Agency minutes.  Taxpayers put up nearly $100k of their money to provide the operator of this facility with a turnkey operation.  The idea was the synergy of the students at TVCC would provide a captive market for this operation.  The lease was structured as a percent of the gross receipts...HOW COULD THIS FAIL TO MAKE MONEY?  Very simple, college students don't have any discretionary money to spend on coffee and food served in restaurants.  

TVCC and students attending the Caldwell campus were going to bring "synergy" and critical mass to downtown Caldwell. We can only hope the Urban Renewal Agency finds another operator for what appears to be a food service operation without adequate customers to keep the doors open.

Our informal survey of downtown business operators indicates TVCC has brought no new business to downtown Caldwell when speaking to various business owners.

Editor Note:  One Guardian reader has offered the current operator is in bad health and the change of operator is a result of this situation.  Also, given the short notice on this RFQ for a new operator there is only one person who has applied to operate the coffee shop operation at TVCC Caldwell.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Dogie Jail Budget Woes

My recall on the cost of the dogie jail was about $2 million give or take a few bucks when it was constructed.  It was built with a bond election and approval of the voters who took the time to actually vote.  Here we are a decade later in the middle of one of worst recessions in my lifetime.  The only thing worse was the Great Depression of the 1930's.

 Canyon County animal shelter budget has been cut again this next budget year and the place has already fallen into a state of disrepair that reflects the lack of taxpayer cash to properly maintain the place. (Brings back memories of the Daile Haile Jail maintenance issues the dogs don't have the ACLU to bring things to a head.)

A month or so back I made a trip out to the animal shelter in search of a replacement dog for the one I had to have put down due to old age and poor health.  I was really dismayed at the lack of keeping the place up to snuff as a public asset.  In addition, the smell in the area where the dogs cleared for adoption was not at all pleasant.  I could not wait to make my exit from the place but understood the budget constraints the shelter is operating under.

In 1974 I worked for the Animal Control Dept. that was a part of the Kern County Health Dept. in Bakersfield, California as a summer job while I was in college.  The animal control problem was out of control in the area and something had to be done.  The Kern County Board of Supervisors made the decision to hire eight people for the summer to go door to do checking dog licenses and rabies vaccinations where there were dogs on the property.  It was not a job for the weak of heart.  We got called everything you can imagine but we covered all 8,000 square miles of the county that summer.  That was the downside, the upside was the compliance for dog licensing and rabies vaccinations went through the roof by people who decided it was time to comply with the dog licensing laws of the county. The Vets in the area also did a land office business in rabies vaccinations.  Me and my fellow doggies inspectors made about $1,500 each that summer.

$7.50/year to license a dog in Canyon County is cheap and will help pay for the animal shelter costs and is really something I viewed as no big deal.  I set it up so the rabies vaccination and the dog license came due at the same time.  My dog got a checkup each time she got her rabies shot.  People who say they love their dogs need to man up and get their dogs into compliance with the laws of Canyon County.  The problem is that laws in general are only as effective as the enforcement of any given set of laws.  The political blow back on dog licensing from otherwise law abiding people can be astounding.

Humane treatment of animals in our animal shelter is a reasonable expectation.  Perhaps it is time for the shelter to be handed over to a non-profit for operation and maintenance with license fees used to support the costs of running the place.