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Friday, August 26, 2011

Dispatch $$$ Brouhaha When One Dispatch Center Should Be Adequate

It is once again time for the cities and county to exchange bills for public services paid for with taxpayer dollars.  Back in the lat 1990's dispatch services for Canyon County and Caldwell were combined to save the taxpayers money when Caldwell built the new police building.  It was a great idea and clear demonstration of cooperation between Sheriff George Nourse and Caldwell Chief of Police Bob Sobba.  Caldwell handed over all the 911 fees attached to phone lines and cell phones to the Sheriff.  Now we have the county handing a bill over to the city of Caldwell for $475k to pay for dispatch services.  Meanwhile the Commissioners are looking at pay raises for county employees to be paid for with taxpayer dollars.

Nampa is out there all alone with their own dispatch services and threatened to sue the county over their fair share of 911 fees generated from telephone lines and cell phones.  County officials agreed to let Nampa have $800k in 911 phone fees to stop the law suit threats over this revenue stream.  Nampa has assumed a very circumspect attitude toward the County over the years and combining services of any kind for any reason is not well received based on perceived poor treatment in the past.  (They withdrew from the Animal Control program due to the bills they refused to pay generated by the County Sheriff as just one example.)

The reality is taxpayers only need to fund one dispatch center for the entire county and cities. It would save taxpayers a wad of cash if cooler heads and logic prevailed.  Case in point...Idaho State Police are dispatched statewide from their Meridian, Idaho headquarters.  Yup...every ISP car gets dispatched from Meridian.  Pretty slick deal and it saves taxpayers a bundle.  THE GUARDIAN would like to know why we need more than one dispatch center for all of Canyon County?

It seems unreasonable for the Sheriff to bill the City of Caldwell for dispatch services given all the cash handed over to the Sheriff via the 911 fees that are generated from Caldwell phone lines and cell phones.  Canyon County dispatch center is a "sunk cost" and will cost the Sheriff and County more if Caldwell bails out on the current partnership.  In the event the Sheriff and Caldwell can't work it out, it makes more sense for Caldwell to partner with Nampa for dispatch services.  Caldwell and Nampa  combine resources with a Metro dispatch plan and leave the County and small town dispatching to the Sheriff.

Nobody seems to be looking out for the taxpayers who ultimately pay the bills for this service.  If ISP can dispatch statewide from Meridian, then why can't taxpayers get a break from the Sheriff on this deal.  It just seems ridiculous with this bickering and billing letters going back and forth between the County and Caldwell.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

When Is is Time To Quit Driving?

THE GUARDIAN made one of my infrequent trips to Boise Tuesday of this week and there was a terrible back up of traffic near the Franklin on ramp of I-84 on the east bound side of the freeway.  The cause of the back up of all the traffic was an elderly driver who failed to merge into freeway traffic and had slammed on the brakes.  He had traffic backed up for several hundred feet in the construction zone as well as the entire length of the Franklin on ramp.

We struggled with the point in time our departed father should give up driving as a family after he blacked out behind the wheel and ran a bicyclist off the road and nearly took out a pedestrian on the sidewalk.  Doctors are reluctant to turn in nearly blind or otherwise medically incompetent elderly drivers, family members hate trying to get mom or dad to hang up the keys.  But this week gave me a clear understanding of when the elderly should park the car.  The on ramp merge test failure is about one of the best tests I can think of to test the capability of elderly drivers.

The elderly guy in the traffic jam on the freeway could not figure out how to merge with freeway traffic and nearly caused a chain reaction series of accidents with his decision to hit the brakes instead of merging into freeway traffic.   Very few of us have not run into this at one time or another and it is not always the elderly who hit the brakes instead of merging.   I would lump these folks into a group that need a remedial driver training course. They are a danger to themselves as well as other drivers.

This sad situation got fixed when a freeway driver stopped and let the old guy and several others merge onto the freeway.  Fact remains, it should have never happened and it is time for the old guy to hang up the car keys.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

TV Antenna Scan Killed My TV!

Here is another one of my less than popular tips for the technically inept.  Somewhere along the line I remembered some instructions to scan for new TV stations broadcast for free over the air waves.  I did this procedure on my new flat screen TV and lost about 50% of my TV stations I was receiving via my rooftop antenna.  I pulled out the owners manual and went through all the troubleshooting instructions and finally had to call for HELP!

Here is the fix that only took me the better part of Monday to apply to my TV and it was fixed instantly.  Unplug the TV while it is on and hold the ON button down for at least a minute while the TV remains unplugged from the wall power outlet.  The Tech help was a freebie I got from COSTCO concierge service that came when bought the new TV.  I plugged the TV back in pressed the ON button and was back in full reception of all TV channels broadcast locally.  I am too cheap for cable service plus it gives me way too many choices to contend with when channel surfing.

Holding the Power ON switch on the TV down bleeds off all the reserve power stored and resets all the magic stuff.  My usual TV repairman always likes to point out all the stuff inside and is amazed it all works as well as it does for as long as it does actually work.   The old Motorola with the converter box works all the time every time since 1982. It will be going nowhere soon despite please from my kids to get rid of it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mayors Nancolas and Dale On EPA 2018 Compliance Date for Sewage Component

We learned today via the IPT, Mayor Nancolas is in decision paralysis over what to do with phosphate in sewer water discharges to Indian Creek.  "Its got us really really concerned" was Mayor Nancolas' comment on the article in the Press Tribune today.  Meanwhile Mayor Dale has rallied his minions to study the matter for the looming sewer plant upgrades that could cost Nampa home and property owners $200 MM to correct.

The problem is too much phosphate in the discharge effluent (fancy word the tech types like to use) pumped into Indian Creek by both cities after the water has gone through all the various cycles of waste treatment at the sewage plants.  Phosphate is not a new problem as THE GUARDIAN wrote about this several years ago after a discussion with a Caldwell city official over what to do with 160 acres next to Purple Sage Golf Course.  The official wanted to sell the property at the height of the housing boom but the deal caved in when the housing market imploded.  It was suggested the property may be needed to land treat 6MM gallons of sewage with the phosphate problem revealed in the IPT today.

Meanwhile, we would like to suggest to Mayor Nancolas he reconsider widening Hwy. 20/26 at a cost of $3 million to Caldwell taxpayers and pretty much a gift to developers along that patch of pavement between Smeed Parkway and the Flying J Plaza.  It is clear the compliance date is 2018, a mere six years down the road.  What is the plan for Caldwell to pay for this compliance mandate.  Hope and ignoring the problem are not solutions.  Most would also agree the doubling of sewer fees in Caldwell is not a reasonable answer either.

If they don't dump the sewage into Indian Creek that leaves land treatment and the golf course site or some other parcel and the sewage goes on the land to gain compliance.  We think Mayor Nancolas should reconsider the $3MM giveaway on Hwy. 20/26 and come up with a compliance plan for the sewage problem compliance date of 2018.  Caldwell City officials have known about this problem for several years and citizens need to know the plan for compliance.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Time To Change Netflix Plan Or Your Bill Will Increase $8.54 In September

The dog days of summer are here and frankly, the items of interest for Caldwell and Nampa readers is pretty low this time of year.  City officials are finalizing budget numbers to try and convince all of us they are running a tight ship with out tax dollars.  
I know the Netflix post here and the ARMORALL post may not captivate the interest of GUARDIAN readers but take heart, our elected leaders will be back in rare form sooner, rather than later.....

In case you forget about it, the good people at NETFLIX have decided to double up on you with a unprecedented $7.99 plus tax rate increase on your home delivery.  The only way to get around it is to go to another provider or drop home delivery from NETFLIX.  NETFLIX had a great deal for DVD watchers but they just had to screw around with their pricing structure again. (Greed is good and they just took a giant rate increase.)

They raised the price last year due to the success of the DVD rental plans they offered now they're at it again.  They are looking to get rid of as much of the USPS services and jobs of people filling those evnelopes as they can with this latest round of increases.  I just clicked off the home delivery option for DVD's and will use the Internet for NETFLIX videos here at our home.  REDBOX at Albertson's and Walgreen's will be my DVD provider from now on unless a challenger comes along to compete with NETFLIX in the near term.

NETFLIX has pretty much given their customers a poke in the eye with a dull stick with this latest rate increase of $7.99 plus tax for home delivery of one movie at a time via USPS and an additional $7.99 plus tax for Internet services you can download.  Just a reminder to readers who may have put off making the changes in time to avoid the rate increases.  Some people may consider NETFLIX still a bargain at whatever they charge but we collectively made the decision to abandon NETFLIX home delivery services.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Caldwell Mayor Nancolas Gross Pay $101,901 Other things Of Interest In Budgets Noted

THE GUARDIAN got a copy of the Caldwell budget and on page one was payroll data for the Mayor.  Mayor Nancolas makes $101,901.00 for the total pay he received with benefits.  He did take a hit this year as his car allowance is down to a mere $8,000.00 this year ($10,000.00 last year), most of this decrease will be made up via a bonus (Performance pay) of $1,500 and a fitness reimbursement of $321.  The job of Mayor in Caldwell pays very well at $101,901.00 as the gross pay package.

The Mayor's Youth Advisory Council will continue to receive $12,000 from the City coffers.  We are not sure why this is listed under the revenue detail of the budget. Mayor Nancolas will continue his road trips to Washington DC with his MYAC group.  (Mayor Nancolas was asked a couple of years back why he doesn't take the MYAC group to the Idaho Legislature v. going all the way back to Washington DC.  THE GUARDIAN got a blank look from our Mayor with this question.)

Hwy. 20/26 will be widened from the FLYING J to Smeed Parkway at a cost of $3,000,000.00.  The widening project is a gift to the development community in the hopes of getting some commercial development in that area and jobs for Caldwell citizens.  The widening is not on the Idaho Dept. of Transportation to do list for several decades.  The approach to this project is the highest cost of the three proposals presented at a public workshop several weeks back.  Cheaper approaches involved using some existing pavement, this one will be a whole new road bed with a longer interval before the road has to be dug up and reworked.  Roads like this have about a 20 year life.  We did not hear of any guarantee if the widening project was done by any of the developers present at this meeting.

Caldwell did not take the 3% increase allowed by Idaho Code but the overall budget is up 2% due to the widening project on Hwy 20/26.  The money came from rainy day reserves for the streets.

We don't have a car allowance amount for Mr. Dale for this year but in past years it was around $4,500.00 and that would have to be added to the total wage package for Mayor Dale. These numbers came from a reader who went to the time and trouble to purchase a copy of the budget and thumb drive at a cost of $10.00  When we get the amount we will post it on THE GUARDIAN for our readers.

The big item for the City of Nampa is the increased cost of the IDAHO CENTER to Nampa residents.  The cost of keeping the doors open will rise to nearly $1 million to Nampa property taxpayers.  Heretofore, the City of Nampa has been feeding the Idaho Center monies left from the first Nampa Urban Renewal effort that built the Idaho Center.  Mayor Dale likes to call this a community building project.

The next project to get a new tax or fee to deal with will be phosphates in waste water.  Mayor Dale has already put together a group to work on this issue.  Caldwell knows it to be a problem but no official word on how they are going to address the problem.  It all comes from the Clean Water Act back in the 1970's and is getting to the front burner via the EPA.  Word on the street is it will cost Nampa tens of millions to fix this problem.  Caldwell has not begun to address this problem with their waste water discharges into the Boise River.  Hang on for even higher sewer fees for this one.