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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Nampa Police Building Cracks Continue Main Floor

It has been reported to THE GUARDIAN more cracks are appearing in the floors of the NPD building.  This latest set of cracks are on the main floor in the grand entry part of the building and are reported to be up to 50 feet in length.

THE GUARDIAN previously reported cracking in the basement area and water seeping in was a threat to the integrity of evidence stored in this part of the building.  The local paper ran a story on this today along with assurances the cracks are not a problem and will be repaired under warranty from the builder.

The real question is why are there all these cracks in a new building in the first place. One Guardian reader has made the observation regarding very old buildings in Nampa that are crack free after many decades of use.  This is a good question and anyone with a good answer is welcome to give us the info regarding this failure in a brand new building.

Friday, June 22, 2012

STOP DYNAMIS MSWTE In Boise, Dioxin Is the Problem

Dynamis is a local outfit with an office in Eagle, Idaho and they are pushing Municipal Solid Waste to Energy in this valley.  Ada Commishes gave Dynamis $2MM and all they have for their cash is a set of plans and promises to convert waste to energy via a "proprietary" process. 

The process used by Dynamis has yet to produce a single kw of electrical power and yet they have Idaho Power over a barrel with federally mandated offset costs for power generated by this effort along with a permit from the Idaho PUC to move forward with the ADA landfill project.

Nampa didn't have the volumes of solid combustible waste to run one of these power plants.  Ada County similarly has a questionable amount of waste to fuel the project and Dynamis is going to  BURN TIRES to supplement the lack of solid waste flows the the plant.  Idaho Power gets stuck paying PURPA rates of $92.35 per Mwh of power they will generate for the next two plus decades. 

All the nasty stuff this facility generates from ash to "allowable limits" of toxins into our air shed will exacerbate already poor air quality in this valley beyond the inversions we all love to hate.  One of the more nasty constituents of that air fouling will be DIOXINS!  Dioxins have a half-life of two years and will take about 14 years for each days worth of this poison to hit insignificant status.  Meanwhile along with DIOXINS there are a host of other nasty things that will have to be dealt with in the sludge, ash and other waste components. 

The real question is why is this project moving forward?  We don't need the power generated by this facility, we don't need more gunk and poison in our air, and is DIOXIN something we want to add to our air quality in the valley.  And the ADA land fill is going to last at least another 100 years.

Dioxin is commonly used to refer to :
In chemistry, a dioxin is a heterocyclic 6-membered ring, where 2 carbon atoms have been substituted by oxygen atoms.

The short version is Dioxin is a known CARCINOGEN and has a highly toxic effect in humans.

The city of Nampa took a flight of fancy with taxpayer dollars and commissioned a very expensive study for a Dynamis Municipal Waste to Energy project, somewhere north of $100,000 was to the total cost of the study. Mayor Dale and his like minded city councilors Ms. White and Mr. Thorn voted to appropriate funds for the study. You can get a copy of the McKinstry Engineering Report by filing a public records request with Nampa City Hall. (I have an e-copy and can send it to those who email me and request a copy.)

Here's a link to a series of articles on the Boise Guardian re: Dynamis

Statesman Editorial June 27/2012

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Urban Renewal Repeal White Paper at Republican State Republican Convention

This post is a copy of a document to be presented at the Republican State Convention in Twin Falls. The CALDWELL GUARDIAN will gladly post similar items from the Dems.

By Rachel S. Gilbert

Do you wonder why your property taxes are so high and continue to rise year after year? Do you wonder why cities and counties are forced to raise your property taxes to pay for fire and police protection, schools, streets and roads, the courts, libraries, county sheriff operations, and a host of other essential services for cities and counties? Are you concerned about school levies year after year?
Here’s the problem, and it’s huge and complicated: URBAN RENEWAL AGENCIES are eviscerating our property tax base and getting away with it! How does that happen?
The Idaho Legislature passed the URBAN RENEWAL law in 1965 to rebuild BOISE’S infamous gutted downtown. At first it was funded by HUD, but when these federal funds dried up, urban renewal languished in Idaho for about 20 years. The problem was funding.
So in 1988 BOISE devised a new, cunning financing scheme called TAX INCREMENT FINANCING (TIF), which very few people understood. It allowed UR agencies to skim our property taxes to fund their questionable projects.
Then in 1997, UR took off like a rocket!! The LOCAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT LAW was passed. I call this law FOOD STAMPS FOR BUSINESSES. City mayors loved it! Developers loved it! Beneficiaries loved it! Farmers hated it! Now Mayors don’t have to go to the people for a pesky general two-thirds obligation bond to build public buildings! They just build them in an UR district and skim future property taxes for up to 24 years. WHAT’S NOT TO LOVE???

Is it not unfair and undemocratic to have UNELECTED, MAYOR-APPOINTED Commissioners spending our property taxes without a vote of the people? Are we going to allow UR to have TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION? LONG-TERM BONDING AUTHORITY without a vote of the people? UNELECTED UR COMMISSIONERS? AUTHORITY TO CONDEMN and take our properties? POLICE POWERS? AUTHORITY TO TAKE HUGE TRACTS OF LAND INTO UR DISTRICTS? What awesome power!!

There are now 70 urban renewal districts in 24 Idaho counties, and last year UR diverted over $52 million from our property tax base. How much was skimmed from your county property tax base last year? Let’s look at a few counties: ADA ….$10.4 million; BANNOCK….$4.9 million; BONNEVILLE…$3.3 million; CANYON…$9.8 Million; CASSIA…$2.2 million; JEROME…$3.1 million; KOOTENAI…$11 million; TWIN FALLS…$2.3 million.

Clearly, this is not just an ADA County problem, and most of you have heard about abuses: Nampa’s Idaho Center still requires a $1.2 million bailout from property taxes to pay its bills.  Coeur d’Alene has a creative “shoestring” approach to take in properties from afar, and its mayor’s greed for more is without limit.  Pocatello’s URA gave $1 million to Costco to subsidize its relocation to the city!  Caldwell URA is subsidizing the YMCA for $9.7 million until 2014. Caldwell also handed out $30,000 for a beauty salon. The list goes on, and on and on. What’s happening to private enterprise?

These property tax dollars are desperately needed for our schools and city and county needs. We can no longer afford this costly diversion that is gutting our property tax base.
Legislators have tried year after year to tweak the UR law to protect our property tax base, but the tax-paid attorneys and lobbyists, and beneficiaries have been too powerful!
There is only one solution: REPEAL THE IDAHO URBAN RENEWAL LAW.
CALIFORNIA REPEALED ITS UR LAW ON February 1, 2012. It was the first state to have urban renewal in 1945 and the first to repeal under Governor Jerry Brown’s leadership. The city mayors and beneficiaries squawked mightily, but the California Supreme court ruled the repeal constitutional!! Now 425 UR districts will be eliminated, and eventually $5.5 billion will go to schools and other essential services.

Senator Bart Davis has expressed concern about repealing the Idaho Personal Property tax, which provides 11% of property tax revenue state-wide. UR REPEAL would eventually put over $52 million back to cities and counties for schools and essential services. Senator Davis would be a great sponsor for REPEAL OF URBAN RENEWAL.
YOU CAN HELP. Talk to your legislators about REPEAL. We can restore our property tax base! Farmers and county residents are especially getting smacked hard to support city urban renewal spending habits, so do talk to your legislators. They will do nothing without your clear support.


Rachel S. Gilbert 208-376-6300
Member Idaho Legislator 1980-1990
4200 Mountain View Drive
Boise, Id 83704

Friday, June 15, 2012

Nampa Budget Workshop Notes Reported to Guardian

It has been reported to THE GUARDIAN  some notes taken in Nampa Budgeting workshop via a confidential source in Nampa:

1.  A 5% increase in revenue from property taxes has been "penciled in" for next year.

2. A number of proposals to save $200K by going with State Insurance System v. the current mode of self insurance for City of Nampa (vetoed by coppers and firemen see #7 below).

3.  Nampa underwriting of their Wellness Progam will be eliminated along with cutting of medical benefits with the addition of a $200 deductible requirement. (vetoed by coppers and firemen see #7 below)

4. The IPT reported 4 new police cars v. the 17 new cars requested.

5.  Nampa Urban Renewal Agency has been asked to fund $800K for a new DNA testing facility for Nampa Police Dept. (No mention of staffing and opertional costs v. this getting done by outside lab)

6.  The new Nampa Public Safety Building has serious problems with water leaking into the basement and poses a threat to compromise evidence stored in the basement of this new $15 Million building.

7.  The new budget efforts are being held hostage by the Coppers and Firemen..especially the firemen's union.  There is a clause in their contract saying there could be no changes to the contract unless changes were mutually agreed to by the city as well as the firemen's union. This has effectively killed any changes in fringe benefits.

In summary, Nampa City Council was divided on the usual lines with White and Thorne arguing for more of everything and Henry and Kren proposing some serious cuts and reorganizations and Mayor Dale siding with White and Thorne and actually advocating even more of everything on top of what was pitched by White and Thorne.

More to come so stay tuned....


Friday, June 8, 2012

Caldwell and Nampa Mayors Quietly Sought Tax Hike

Caldwell and Nampa Mayors Suggest Higher Assessed Values on Property

It has been reported to THE GUARDIAN Mayors Nancolas and Dale have had discussions with the Canyon County Assessor to have property tax assessments reflect an average of 107% of full market value.   Idaho Code calls for all County Assessors to assess property at 100% of full market value. 

Idaho Tax Commission requires all county assessors to submit statistical data to support they are in compliance with this requirement.  There is a provision for some deviation from the 100% of market value requirement but it must be within 90% to 110% of FULL MARKET VALUE.  Sanctions for non-compliance are severe and involve the State Tax Commission taking over the assessment duties, loss of sales tax revenue as well as losing funding for circuit breaker funds for the elderly.

Currently, Canyon County is at 97% of full market value for all property in Canyon County.  Mayors Nancolas and Dale have quietly made requests to Canyon County Assessor Gene Kuehn and his staff to raise the assessments in Caldwell and Nampa by a full 10% to reflect an average of 107% of full market value for property within their cities. 

Right now, nearly all taxing districts are up against the limit for tax levies as a percent of property value, hence the attempt to raise the values.  The Canyon Assessor’s staff are well within the limits set by the Idaho Tax Commission.

Perhaps these two politicos need a class in “Belt Tightening 101.”  No word from either of the city councils about passing resolutions publicly asking the county to increase property assessments so they can increase tax revenue without increasing the levies.

Here's a link to the IPT Story in the Suday Edition of the paper

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Caldwell URA Projects Get Green Light: Downtown and County

THE GUARDIAN attended the monthly CEURA meeting today and was most pleased with the outcome.  We will see two new building projects move forward:  One in Downtown Caldwell and the other will be a new Canyon County Administrative Office building.  These two projects will breathe some new life into downtown and clean up the presentation as well as fill a need for more office space at the county courthouse.

The downtown project will encompass and renew the site from Summer's Office Supply Bldg withsome facade work and the purchaseand removal ofall the existing buildings on the south side of Arthur Street to the walking path along Indian Creek.  A motion was made to move this project forward via a $1MM incentive package to any developer willing to take on a project of mixed used to be defined by a group of downtown business development people. The project will be a mixed use of retail, condo and professional services.  Developer who takes on the project as well as final ownership of the project can expect up to $1MM in the form of a reimbursement for land acquisition and demolition costs.  Payback to Caldwell taxpayers will come in the form of property taxes levied on the project and individual owners of condos and other spaces in the project.

Canyon County Commissioner's got approval for a new 45,000 sf. County Administrative building to be constructed on the parking lot to the south of the County Coroner/Forensic Lab Offices.  The CEURA Board passed a motion for the Chairman to prepare a resolution for revenue bonds to be issued for this project.  Canyon County will be responsible for the construction and supervision of the construction and bonds will be repaid via the URA increment money the County is scheduled to receive from 2015 to 2022.  Funds to the county will be in the neighborhood of $1.3MM per year for eight years that remain on the life of CEURA.  The new building will be about $7MM depending on bids and specifications.

County services to be located in the new admin. building will be Development Services, Commissioners, Clerk Auditor and other county offices.  The existing courthouse will be made over into courtrooms, office spaces for the County Prosecutor and Public Defender and other judicial functions.  The plan also calls for an 80 bed expansion for a women's section of the County Jail and conversion of the Elections building into an alternative sentencing facility akin to 24/7 programs used in other counties.

MRSA, E. coli Not Something to Ignore

Today we all learned of a 6 year old boy from Milbray, Mass. who died from yet another from of E. coli bacterial infection called H.U.S. or Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome.  I have a brother who nearly lost one if his arms to flesh eating bacteria. The only thing that saved him and his arm was an Emergency Room doctor who recognized the symptoms as well as my brother not waiting to go to a doctor.  The primary vector for E. coli bacteria is under cooked food. In particular meat products that have been ground up mixing surface bacteria into the meat like hamburgers and hot dogs.  Food manufacturers make every effort to make our food safe but 100% is not there. Consumers need to cook meat products like hot dogs and hamburgers to at least 155 degrees.  Here's a link to the story on the child who died:

MRSA is another bug we need to be on the alert for and to take prevention steps lest we fall victim. A person with a MRSA infection is in the photo in this post. Primay vectors for this are hospitals and gyms but they are not the only haunts of this bug.  MRSA is methcylin resistant Stap. Aureus.  Hand washing and keeping things we touch clean helps.  Disinfecting gym equipment BEFORE YOUR USE IT rather than after use makes more sense that what you see in gyms.  Cleaning the equipment after you are done using it makes no sense.  Again, handwashing and use of hand sanitizers by you and those who you come into contact with will help keep your exposure to these bugs minimized.

Another area is that gym locker.  You should clean it before stashing your clothes in one of these germ filled cubicles.  Better yet just don't use the locker and locker room. Wear your gym clothes to the facility and shower at home. A degree in Biology has given THE GUARDIAN a heightened level of awareness for the potent consequences of ignoreing these little bugs.  Cleanliness may be next to Godliness and in addition it may save your life.