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Top tags: City Officials' Day at the Capitol 

2017 Municipal Utility Survey - Now Available

Posted By Johanna Bell, Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Association of Idaho Cities is pleased to share the 2017 Municipal Utility Survey. This report contains information on municipal services, billing, system characteristics and rates, asset management and fiscal capability assessments, and stormwater/drainage/floodway management.

The information is aggregated into easy-to-read summary tables that present averages, percentages, counts, and other data to capture survey question response. Results are categorized into five city populations:

• Less than 1,000;
• 1,000-4,999;
• 5,000-14,999;
• 15,000-49,999;
• 50,000 or more.

This is the second AIC utility survey. The first survey was conducted in 2010. With assistance from a Survey Focus Group, this second survey has been expanded to include additional topics relative to utility operations and financial capability analysis. A similar survey is planned for implementation once every five years.

Similar to the 2010 survey, AIC advises cities in the strongest possible terms NOT to set rates based solely on what another city charges. A city’s utility rates must reflect the cost of operating the specific system in light of the unique needs for future expansion and system upgrades. Setting rates based on what other cities charge can be a tragically costly decision.

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Idaho Cities Stormwater & Drainage Funding

Posted By Johanna Bell, Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Stormwater and drainage systems consist of stormwater pipes, curbs, gutters, drainage ditches, detention ponds, and stormwater treatment facilities.  Unlike wastewater, most stormwater is not treated to remove pollutants before flowing into local streams, lakes, and wetlands; resulting in pollution of the waterways. To eliminate non-stormwater and pollutant discharge, the Clean Water Act requires both private and public sectors that discharge stormwater from industrial facilities or construction sites into the receiving waters of the United States to obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit ("NPDES permit").  Cities designated as owning or operating Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s) are also subject to federal permit requirements.   MS4 NPDES permits require the designated cities to undertake comprehensive management of its stormwater system to reduce pollutant loads.

Stormwater infrastructure associated with streets is often constructed to convey stormwater runoff from both public streets and private developed property.  While the practice for private developments to retain, treat, and dispose of stormwater on site is very common, Idaho city inventories show that between 30 and 40 percent of the runoff conveyed by stormwater facilities is associated with both streets and privately developed property.  This situation underscores that managing stormwater effectively involves cooperative efforts from both the private and public sectors.

During the spring of 2017 AIC investigated how Idaho cities are grappling with these and other emerging stormwater, drainage or floodway management and compliance issues. Results show that:

  • Idaho cities with populations over 5,000 residents have consistently adopted stormwater, drainage, or flood management policies or ordinances;
  • only one (1) out of the two hundred (200) Idaho cities has established an enterprise fund utility for drainage management services;
  • funding sources for most Idaho cities for both city-owned and city-regulated drainage management rely heavily on general funds and utility fees paid for waste/reclaimed water;
  • as the city population increases, more Idaho cities also recover some city-regulated costs through developer permit fees; and,
  • the two ‘most challenging’ issues facing Idaho cities for stormwater/drainage management include insufficient funding and aging or inadequate infrastructure.

Responses from the various Idaho cities reflect how there are different funding options for either city-owned or city-regulated drainage management.  In the example for Coeur d’Alene, the stormwater program exists in large part to meet federal, state, and local regulations, most prominent among them being NPDES permitting requirements.  

The following provides a brief list of some funding options currently used by Idaho cities to fund drainage services.  These funding options are not ranked in any specific order, and AIC wishes to emphasize that an Idaho city’s individual situations may preclude the use of one or more of these funding options.

Drainage Services Utility

Drainage service charges can provide a dependable, predictable, and equitable funding source.   Best practices in the development of these utilities include the use of impervious surface area, geographic location, and on-site mitigation to determine chargeable area and rates to be charged; coupled with a process for appeals to establish adjustments or exemptions to the amount of chargeable area.  City-owned facilities receiving stormwater services also pay for these services as though they are provided by a third party.  Drainage services provided either on behalf of, or that benefit the city’s streets, require careful analysis and tracking in order to ensure the value of the various services are appropriately offset.

Waste/Reclaimed Water Services Utility

As in the case of drainage service charges, a waste/reclaimed water service utility can provide dependable, predictable, legally defensible, and equitable funding.  Many of the same considerations recommended for a drainage service utility apply to a waste/reclaimed water service utility.  By viewing these various services holistically, cities can take advantage of natural efficiencies that comes from managing multiple Clean Water Act programs within one utility.  The stormwater program may also indirectly benefit the waste/reclaimed water program by helping to meet total maximum daily load (TMDL) restrictions on receiving water bodies.  The most significant issue with this funding source is the weakness of the nexus between stormwater management and the most commonly used bases for charging wastewater rates, which include water usage and wastewater effluent strength in some cases.

Street Fund

Use of Street Fund money can be justified because many stormwater facilities are located inside the street right-of-way.  As a result, this source is sometimes used by Idaho cities to fund a portion of stormwater management.  However, the street fund is subject to many competing street maintenance demands, and may not be a reliable source for ongoing funding.   

General Fund

Use of General Fund money is usually unrestricted, and thus is frequently used by Idaho cities to fund stormwater management.  However, the general fund is subject to many competing demands, and may not be a reliable source for ongoing funding.   

Permit Application and Review Fees

New development and significant re-development building permit requirements protect cities’ right-of-way and transportation networks.  Erosion control permits also ensure that private development activities do not cause harm to adjacent private or public properties.  A number of Idaho cities currently charge a nominal fee for these applications and compliance reviews in order to offset the cost of equitable local regulation.   

Special Assessments or Special Fees

These are most commonly structured as local improvement districts (LIDs).  These funding mechanisms assess individual properties that benefit from or are served by a specific capital improvement for a share of the cost of that facility. Typically, benefit must be demonstrated by an increase in assessed valuation due to the improvement. Special Fees or direct charges may be used to recover the direct costs for services performed for a customer or class of customers not generally related to the overall service charge.

Impact Fees

Like utility connection charges, impact fees are one-time charges imposed as conditions of development, and are designed to recover an equitable share of the cost of capital investment incurred by the Utility.  The cost basis for an impact fee, authorized in Title 67, Chapter 82 of the Idaho Code, and available for “Storm water collection, retention, detention, treatment and disposal facilities, flood control facilities, and bank and shore protection and enhancement improvements”, may include a share of planned future facilities required to support growth. It is crucial that impact fees be the product of a clear calculation basis derived from official asset accounting and capital improvement plans and that they adhere to statutory limitations and legal precedents.  Revenues from such charges are available for capital purposes only and are not able to fund ongoing program operations.

Debt and Special Grants & Loans

Traditional debt, special grants, or subsidized loans are available only for capital project funding – not ongoing operations.  In addition, loans require a reliable funding source to meet debt repayment needs.

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Seth Grigg Resigns as AIC Executive Director

Posted By Justin Ruen, Friday, September 8, 2017

AIC Executive Director Seth Grigg resigned his position this week in a letter to the AIC Executive Committee.  Grigg was hired as Executive Director of the Idaho Association of Counties (IAC) and it is anticipated that he will start work for IAC on November 13, 2017. 

The AIC Executive Committee will meet Friday morning to discuss the process for filling the executive director position. 

“Your confidence, support, and kindness over the last three years have been instrumental in fulfilling my duties as Executive Director,” Grigg said.  “I could not have done the job without you.  It is because of you, the AIC staff, and your collective commitment to AIC that it is so difficult to make this decision.  However, after thoughtful consideration, lengthy meditation, and consultation with my wife I feel that the correct place for me to continue my professional development is with the Idaho Association of Counties.”

“Know that in whatever capacity I serve in the future, I hope to continue to build partnerships with AIC and its members in resolving the policy matters faced by local units of government.  Many pressing issues confront both cities and counties alike: adequate funding for magistrate court services, paying for Idaho’s public defense system, property tax administration, grappling with property tax caps, and transportation funding, to name a few.”

Grigg was hired by AIC in August 2014 after having served for five years as a Policy Analyst with IAC, where he developed great familiarity with property tax policy and natural resource policy. 

“During Seth’s tenure as Executive Director, AIC successfully advocated for increased transportation funding, protected revenue sharing, preserved annexation authority, and made important changes to local government procurement laws,” said AIC President Jeri DeLange of Hayden.

“The Board of Directors and staff of AIC have the deepest appreciation for Seth’s outstanding service to the association and we look forward to working with him in his new position,” DeLange said. 

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EPA to hold five public meetings in Idaho focusing on IDEQ seeking water quality permitting program

Posted By Johanna Bell, Thursday, September 7, 2017

In 2014, the Idaho Legislature revised Idaho Code to direct the Idaho Department of Environmental Qualilty (DEQ) to seek U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authorization for a state-operated pollutant discharge elimination system permitting program. The current program is operated by EPA and called the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program. The state program will be called the Idaho Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (IPDES) program.  This permit program is a key part of the federal Clean Water Act's water pollution control by regulating sources that discharge pollutants to waters in the United States. 

The EPA is accepting public comments on the State of Idaho’s application to assume the role of writing, administering and enforcing water quality discharge permits in the state until October 10th.  Between September 11th and September 15th the EPA will hold five public meetings, immediately followed by five public hearings in the following Idaho cities (all times are local times):

September 11, 2017 - Idaho Falls
Central Public Library
457 W. Broadway, Idaho Falls, ID 83402
208-612-8460
Informational meeting from 4-5:30 pm. Public hearing/testimony begins at 6 pm until complete.

September 12, 2017 - Twin Falls
Twin Falls Public Library
201 Fourth Ave. East, Twin Falls, ID 83301
208-733-2964
Informational meeting from 4-5:30 pm. Public hearing/testimony begins at 6 pm until complete.

September 13, 2017 - Boise
Boise Public Library
715 S Capitol Blvd., Boise, ID 83702
208-972-8200
Informational meeting from 4-5:30pm. Public hearing/testimony begins at 6pm until complete.

September 14, 2017 - Lewiston
Lewiston Community Center (Lewiston Parks and Recreation)
1424 Main St., Lewiston, ID 83501
208-746-2313
Informational meeting from 4-5:30 pm. Public hearing/testimony begins at 6 pm until complete.

September 15, 2017 - Coeur d'Alene
Coeur d'Alene Public Library
702 E Front Ave., Coeur d'Alene, ID 83814
208-769-2315
Informational meeting from 2-3:30 pm. Public hearing/testimony begins at 4 pm until complete.

It is AIC’s expectation that the IPDES program will protect the environment, incorporate affordable water quality improvements, and coordinate with the drinking water program to provide universal access to water, waste/reclaimed water, and drainage/stormwater services in support of economic development in Idaho.  AIC has identified a number of opportunities as the IPDES program is developed and implemented.  These opportunities fall into three general categories

  1. Effluent limit considerations that provide regulatory flexibility for increased affordability and innovation;       
  2. An Idaho Financial Capability Analysis or guidance to address the combined Idaho city responsibilities for the Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, and drainage/stormwater programs; and,
  3. Memorandum of Agreement and future Performance Partnership Agreement terms that help the State and Idaho cities comply with regulations within affordable time lines and avoid premature enforcement actions.  

 

 

 

 

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Completing the Picture: Financial Capability Analysis

Posted By Johanna Bell, Thursday, August 31, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Nearly 45% of Idaho cities provide waste/reclaimed water treatment facilities, while 78% provide drinking water.  Additionally, over 99% of Idaho cities are tasked with drainage and stormwater management for impervious surfaces including streets, parking lots, and buildings.  These varied responsibilities require Idaho cities to play important roles as the primary funders of the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act.  

Most, if not all, Idaho cities face complex water quantity and quality issues that are heightened by  issues such as population growth or decline, source water supply and quality, challenging regulations, and aging infrastructure.   To address these complex issues, Idaho cities make significant investments in waste/reclaimed water, drinking water, and drainage infrastructure.  These capital projects can rehabilitate existing systems, improve operation and maintenance, or be implemented to address emerging regulatory requirements.  

Given these issues, it is not surprising that Idaho cities and their utility customers frequently find themselves facing difficult economic challenges with limited financial capabilities.  Guidance issued by the EPA in 2014  recognizes these issues and seeks to address these financial capability challenges by identifying ways the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and States can develop and implement new approaches.  For Idaho cities these new approaches are critical to achieving water quality goals at lower costs and in ways that address the most pressing problems first.

The 2014 EPA guidance recognizes that long-term approaches to meeting Clean Water Act objectives should be sustainable and within a local government or authority’s financial capability; and that financial capability includes Safe Drinking Water Act obligations as well. In short, EPA recognized that the financial capabilities of Idaho cities are important to consider when EPA or the State develop schedules for infrastructure project requirements in permits or enforcement actions to help protect human health and the environment.   This process for evaluating parameters that measure an Idaho city’s financial capability builds upon EPA guidance initially published in 1997. A two-phase approach is applied. The first phase identifies the financial impact of costs (i.e., utility rates) on residential households as a percentage of local median household income (MHI).  The value for this indicator characterizes whether the costs impose a “low,” “medium,” or “high” financial impact on residential users. 

 

Residential Financial Capability Indicators

Financial Impact

Low

Mid-Range

High

Residential Indicator (% of MHI)

< 1.0%

1.0 - 2.0%

> 2.0%

 

The second phase identifies six factors used to evaluate debt, socioeconomic, and financial conditions that affect a city’s financial capability.  These indicators characterize a city’s financial capability as “strong,” “mid-range,” or “weak.”

 

City Financial Capability Indicators

Debt Indicators

Strong

Mid-Range

Weak

1. Bond Ratings

AAA, AA, A

BBB

BB, B, CCC, CC, C, D

2. Overall Net Debt as % of Full Market Property Value

< 2%

2 - 5%

> 5%

 

Socioeconomic Indicators

Strong

Mid-Range

Weak

3. Unemployment Rate

1% < National Average (NA)

+/- 1% NA

1% > NA

4. Median Household Income (MHI)

25% > Adjusted National (AN) MHI

+/- 25% AN MHI

25% < AN MHI

 

Financial Management Indicators

Strong

Mid-Range

Weak

5. Property Tax Revenue Collection Rate

> 98%

94 - 98%

< 94%

6. Property Tax Revenues as % of Full Market Property Value

> 2%

2 - 4%

> 4%

 

AIC believes it is a good idea for Idaho cities to develop or update a "financial capability analysis" periodically and submit their finding to the permitting authority as they re-apply for wastewater discharge permits.  A financial capability analysis is an important tool as Idaho cities protect the environment, incorporate affordable water quality improvements, and coordinate with the drinking water program to provide universal access to water, waste/reclaimed water, and drainage/stormwater services in support of economic development in Idaho. 

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Idaho Water Supply Forecast Resources

Posted By Johanna Bell, Thursday, August 24, 2017
Updated: Thursday, August 24, 2017

The "Idaho Snowmageddon" of 2017 is firmly in our rear view mirror as our Idaho summer draws to a close.  But that does not diminish our curiosity about what may be in store for us during year ahead!  To help us get ready for the "New (water) Year" (October 1st), here is a list of water supply forecast resources from our various state and federal partners.  May they prove to be helpful and informative to you during the dark winter months ahead!

 

Idaho Department of Water Resources - Water Data

Idaho water data is provided through the combined efforts of state and federal governmental agencies involved in water management in Idaho. Each agency brings a different technical aspect and expertise in order to provide the most extensive water supply outlook available.

Link: https://www.idwr.idaho.gov/water-data/

 

Northwest River Forecast Center (NWRFC)

The NWRFC is one of 13 National Weather Service hydrologic centers in the United States, specialzing in flood and water resource forecasting, river modeling, and hydrologic system development. It works with water management agencies to provide the best possible operations of the Columbia reservoir systems. It's mission is to save lives and decrease property damage by the issuance of flood warnings and river stage forecasts; provide basic hydrologic forecast information for the Nation's economic and environmental well being; and to provide extended forecast information for water resources management. Flood forecasts and warnings are disseminated to the public through Weather Forecast Offices. Forecast distribution is made using the NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, television, and local emergency agencies. 

Link: https://www.nwrfc.noaa.gov/rfc/

 

National Weather Service: Snow Analysis

The National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center provides comprehensive snow observations, analyses, data sets and map products for the Nation.

Link: https://www.nohrsc.noaa.gov/nsa/

 

National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center

The Climate Prediction Center's (CPC) products are operational predictions of climate variability, real-time monitoring of climate and the required data bases, and assessments of the origins of major climate anomalies. The products cover time scales from a week to seasons, extending into the future as far as technically feasible, and cover the land, the ocean, and the atmosphere, extending into the stratosphere.

Link: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov

 

National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS): Idaho Snow Survey

The NRCS Snow Survey Program provides mountain snowpack data and streamflow forecasts for the western United States. Common applications of snow survey products include water supply management, flood control, climate modeling, recreation, and conservation planning.

Link: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/id/snow/

 

Bureau of Reclamation Hydromet System (a.k.a. "teacup" diagrams)

The Hydromet System (Hydromet) is a data collection and distribution system that supports the Bureau of Reclamation's mission of water resource management. Hydromet data collection supports reservoir and water project operations, water management, and water supply forecasting for Reclamation's multipurpose reservoir systems in the Columbia and Snake River basins. Water uses supported by the Hydromet include flood control, irrigation, power generation, water quality, water conservation, fish and wildlife management, research, and recreation. The Hydromet database provides an excellent source of information for water management planning activities. Reclamation operates several Hydromet systems, including one in Yakima, Washington once known as the Yakima Remote Control System (YRCS).

Boise & Payette: https://www.usbr.gov/pn/hydromet/boipaytea.html

Lewiston Orchards: https://www.usbr.gov/pn/hydromet/loidtea.html

Snake River: https://www.usbr.gov/pn/hydromet/burtea.html

 

Northwest Climate Toolbox

The Toolbox transforms raw climatological, meteorological, and hydrological information into a series of easy-to-navigate tools that allow users to plug in their location on a map and visualize data for that location. Tools in the Toolbox include visualizations of historical data (going back decades); short-term, seasonal forecasts (on the order of months); and long-term, future projections (on the order of decades to the year 2100). Still more tools track wildfire danger and track how plant growing zones are expected to shift as the climate warms.  Designed with farmers  and water managers in mind, the Toolbox is intended to help the Pacific Northwest respond to and prepare for potentially costly impacts to its agriculture and natural resources both today and under future climate change.  The Toolbox is a joint effort between CIRC, the Northwest Knowledge Network, USDA Northwest Climate Hub, and US Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture. 

Link: http://pnwcirc.org/climatetools or https://climatetoolbox.org/

 

Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR): Idaho

EPSCoR partners with states that have historically received smaller amounts of federal research and development funds to enhance science and engineering research, education, and technological capabilities. Idaho EPSCoR provides support for sustainable increases in Research and Development capacity and advances science and engineering capabilities within the state.

Link: https://www.idahoepscor.org/

 

US Drought Monitor: Idaho

The U.S. Drought Monitor, established in 1999, is a weekly map of drought conditions that is produced jointly by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The U.S. Drought Monitor website is hosted and maintained by the NDMC. 

Link: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/Home/StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?ID

 

NOAA Evaporative Drought Demand Index

The EDDI maps display atmospheric evaporative demand for 1 to 12 weeks and 1 to 12 months prior to the most current date. 

Link: https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/eddi/realtime_maps/

 

Agriculture Climate Network

The AgClimate Network is a web-based hub for data, analysis and communication between regional scientists and stakeholders about climate change and agricultural and natural resources topics. A consortium of institutions including Oregon State University, University of Idaho, and Washington State University, and individuals contribute content to this site and share articles and analyses. 

Link: https://www.agclimate.net/

 

USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station

Effects of drought on forests and rangelands in the United States: a comprehensive science synthesis

This assessment provides input to the reauthorized National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) and the National Climate Assessment (NCA), and it establishes the scientific foundation needed to manage for drought resilience and adaptation. Focal areas include drought characterization; drought impacts on forest processes and disturbances such as insect outbreaks and wildfire; and consequences for forest and rangeland values. Management actions can either mitigate or exacerbate the effects of drought. A first principal for increasing resilience and adaptation is to avoid management actions that exacerbate the effects of current or future drought. Options to mitigate drought include altering structural or functional components of vegetation, minimizing drought-mediated disturbance such as wildfire or insect outbreaks, and managing for reliable flow of water.

Link: https://www.treesearch.fs.fed.us/pubs/50261

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Idaho Copper Criteria for Aquatic Life

Posted By Johanna Bell, Wednesday, August 16, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, September 12, 2017

 

Idaho initiated rulemaking to update the Copper criteria for aquatic life in 2015.  The use of the biotic ligand model (BLM), with ten water and effluent parameters instead of hardness alone, will provide a more accurate estimate of the actual criteria.  AIC does not anticipate that the copper BLM will trigger limits for most facilities.   However, cities with major waste/reclaimed water facilities (i.e., those that discharge 5 or more million gallons per day) or with industrial dischargers should consider the collection of these additional data.

August 2017 Implementation Guidance for the Idaho Copper Criteria for Aquatic Life states that 24 monthly data points over the course of a year will provide appropriate data for a given site (see pg. 20).  The BLM calculates what the water quality criteria (WQC) would be on that specific day, under those specific conditions.  So, if a city collected 24 monthly samples, the BLM would calculate the WQC 24 times.  

BLM data collected in receiving waters downstream of point source discharges will provide the basis for applicable BLM criteria.  AIC supports this approach because it will provide the best science-based local dataset that will be representative of BLM constituents in both the receiving water and the effluent after mixing.  Dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and pH are key parameters used in the development of the BLM.  
  
The negotiated rulemaking concluded in July 2017.  Materials from the rulemaking can be accessed through this link: http://www.deq.idaho.gov/58-0102-1502 

 

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Emergency Relief Fund Update from Idaho Office of Emergency Management

Posted By Justin Ruen, Friday, August 4, 2017

There have been many questions from applicants regarding status of Emergency Relief Funds (ERF).  The following is a brief overview of where we are at and what you can expect going forward. 
 
The process to fund projects can be longer than expected because of the potential for many projects to be eligible for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) funding.  It is important that state ERF funds not be used on projects where federal funding is available.
 
To review, ERF funding is awarded on a conditional basis pending review of FEMA and FHWA eligible projects. We have identified those projects that are eligible for funding through FEMA or FHWA at the surface level, and are now working to identify which projects have been approved. Unfortunately, we are unable to release ERF funds until a final determination has been made. Once determined, projects will be awarded as follows: 

Ineligible for FEMA or FHWA – 90% funded by ERF, 10% match by jurisdiction

FEMA approved – 75% funded by FEMA, 15% funded by ERF, 10% match by jurisdiction

FHWA approved – generally 100% funded by FHWA
 
Those projects currently identified as not eligible for FEMA or FHWA will be getting ERF Project Agreements and Worksheets within the next week. We are working with LHTAC and have requested a list of approved/denied projects from FHWA. Once we have that information we can continue to finalize eligible ERF projects.
 
Projects that have been obligated funds from FEMA will be receiving letters with next step information in the next 1-2 weeks. If you have received a denial letter from either FEMA or FHWA, please forward that to us so that we can get started on your project. 
 
Please feel free to contact me with any other questions or concerns.
 
Best Regards,

Jesse-Kay Cole 
Administrative Specialist
Idaho Office of Emergency Management
(208) 258-6591 Office
(208) 859-5501 Cell

 

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Supreme Court Ruling on Grocery Tax Repeal Means Status Quo for Now

Posted By Justin Ruen, Friday, July 28, 2017

In a ruling last week, the Idaho Supreme Court upheld Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter’s veto of a bill repealing the sales tax on groceries.  This means that the status quo prevailed and the sales tax on groceries will continue for the immediate future.

The case was brought by a group of 30 legislators who sued Idaho Secretary of State Lawerence Denney to challenge the Governor’s veto of House Bill 67, passed by the 2017 Idaho Legislature.  The lawmakers argued that the Governor’s veto should be struck down because he did not return the vetoed bill to the Secretary of State within ten days (excluding Sundays) after the Legislature adjourned.

Article IV, Section 10 of the Idaho Constitution provides:

“Every bill passed by the legislature shall, before it becomes a law, be presented to the governor. If he approve, he shall sign it, and thereupon it shall become a law; but if he do not approve, he shall return it with his objections to the house in which it originated…  …Any bill which shall not be returned by the governor to the legislature within five days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, shall become a law in like manner as if he had signed it, unless the legislature shall, by adjournment, prevent its return, in which case it shall be filed, with his objections, in the office of the secretary of state within ten days after such adjournment (Sundays excepted) or become a law.”

The Idaho Supreme Court interpreted this constitutional provision in Cenarrusa v. Andrus in 1978, holding that after the Legislature has adjourned, the Governor has 10 days from the time the bill is presented to him to act, not 10 days from the end of the legislative session.  The 3-2 ruling in Cenarrusa went unchallenged for nearly 40 years. 

The legislators challenging Otter’s veto wanted the Court to strictly interpret the constitutional provision and give the Governor 10 days from the Legislature’s day of adjournment to act on bills, as opposed to 10 days after presentment. 

The Court overturned the Cenarrusa decision and held that all bills must be presented to the Governor before the Legislature adjourns for the year, which will be a major change as bills have been presented to the Governor after adjournment since 1967.  The Court also held that the 10-day period for the Governor to decide on bills when the Legislature has adjourned for the year begins the date of adjournment, not when the bill is presented to the Governor.  The Court’s ruling applies prospectively, so any bills that have already been passed could not be challenged.

This means that, for the immediate future, the status quo prevails and the sales tax on groceries continues without changes.  AIC is aware of two cities—Sandpoint and Driggs—that have local option retail sales taxes that apply to food that would have been impacted had the Governor’s veto been struck down. 

Revenue sharing funds to cities will likewise see no changes because of the Court’s ruling.  House Bill 67 protected revenue sharing funds and even if the Court had struck down the Governor’s veto, cities’ revenue sharing funds would have been preserved.

However, the issue looms large in the 2018 governor’s race and grocery tax repeal is supported by candidates Lieutenant Governor Brad Little and former emergency room physician and developer Tommy Ahlquist.  It is not clear if 1st District Congressman Raul Labrador supports repeal.  Given the overwhelming support in the Legislature, the issue could gain a lot of traction once a new Governor takes office in January 2019.  

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City Achievement Award Winners Recognized at AIC Annual Conference

Posted By Justin Ruen, Thursday, July 13, 2017

Eleven cities were recognized with City Achievement Awards at the AIC Annual Conference on June 22 at the Annual Banquet at JUMP (Jack’s Urban Meeting Place).

The City Achievement Awards recognize the work of cities around Idaho that have implemented pioneering approaches to improve quality of life, address community challenges, and enhance service delivery in cost-effective ways.

This year, awards were given in six categories: Community Engagement, Economic & Community Development, Parks & Recreation, Public Safety, Public Works & Transportation, and Youth Council.

Ammon was a winner in the Economic & Community Development Category for its Fiber Optic Utility Project, which is bringing broadband to residents throughout the community using an innovative city local improvement district.

Bancroft was a winner in the Parks & Recreation Category for the Lighting of Teuscher Square, which brought the community together for a holiday celebration in the festively decorated square in downtown.

Boise was recognized in the Public Works & Transportation Category for its Dixie Drain Phosphorous Removal Facility, an innovative project that is helping the city meet stringent new phosphorous limits in a cost-effective way and improve water quality in the lower Boise River.  Boise also received an award in the Public Safety Category for its Police Liaison Program, which is helping the department to improve communication and build trust among LGBTQ, Hispanic, African American, and refugee communities.  

Caldwell received an award in the Community Engagement Category for the Downtown Plaza Project, which is an outdoor venue for hosting concerts, movies in the park, festivals and farmers markets, that continues the revitalization of downtown Caldwell.

Coeur d’Alene won an award in the Community Engagement Category for the Lake City Public Library, which is a partnership between the city and school district to open a public library branch at Lake City High School.  Coeur d’Alene also received an award in the Public Safety Category for its Community Action Team, which is partially funded through a federal COPS grant and proactively works with the community on crime prevention, relationship building and problem solving. 

Glenns Ferry Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council was recognized for its alley clean-up project, which brought together youth from the community to clean city alleys of overgrown brush and debris. 

Iona Mayor’s Youth Council won an award for its outstanding work in community service, building youth leadership skills and opening lines of communication between city elected officials and youth. 

Lewiston was a winner in the Public Works & Transportation Category for the Downtown Lewiston Infrastructure Repair & Replacement Project, which replaced a variety of aging infrastructure in downtown Lewiston with funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Transit Administration, Port of Lewiston and Lewiston Urban Renewal Agency.

Meridian was recognized in the Economic & Community Development Category for its Idaho Avenue Placemaking Project, a collaborative effort aimed at creating a sense of place that will enhance pedestrian traffic and attract new businesses in downtown Meridian.

Pocatello received an award in the Public Safety Category for its Assisted Living Facility Protocols, which aim to reduce unnecessary 911 calls by providing guidance for assisted living facility staff.

Twin Falls was a winner in the Parks & Recreation Category for the Connecting the Canyon Rim Project, which acquired the final piece of property required to complete the 7.5-mile trail along the scenic Snake River canyon. 

Twin Falls Youth Council was recognized for its Hula Hoop for Health Project, which provided education to 4th and 5th grade students about healthy, active lifestyles, including hula hooping.

Congratulations to all the 2017 City Achievement Award winners!  If your city or youth council has an outstanding project that deserves recognition, we hope you will consider filling out the City Achievement application next year.

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