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Top tags: City Officials' Day at the Capitol 

Urgent Action Request on HB 103

Posted By Justin Ruen, Monday, February 6, 2017

Tomorrow the House Revenue & Taxation Committee will consider a bill that would curtail local governments’ ability to use foregone property tax levies.  We urge city officials to contact their local legislators and respectfully ask for their opposition to House Bill 103.

House Bill 103 is sponsored by Rep. Mike Moyle, R-Star, and would allow the governing board of a taxing district to disclaim any or all of the entity’s accumulated foregone levies. 

When a city, county, or other taxing district levies less than the maximum amount permitted by law under the 3% Cap, the foregone amounts accumulate and the taxing district can include these foregone levies in their tax levy in any subsequent year. 

The concept of foregone levies has been around for decades, because it makes so much sense.  Idaho taxing districts have accumulated $108 million in foregone levies (2016), which represents substantial, ongoing property tax relief for Idaho taxpayers.  If the law restricts local governments’ ability to recover foregone levies, then it incentivizes levying the maximum allowed by law.

AIC opposes House Bill 103 because it puts at risk the prudent budgeting and taxing decisions that city officials have made over decades.  We should be rewarding local governments that budget conservatively, not looking to tie their hands with a short-sighted policy that increases the burdens on Idaho property taxpayers.

Last session, AIC supported legislation that improved the transparency of foregone levies for local governments.  House Bill 474 required that local governments provide notice before levying for foregone, including passing a resolution that identifies the amount of the foregone levy and the purpose for which the revenue will be used.  This legislation provides additional transparency for local governments levying for foregone.   

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House Local Government Committee Hears City Perspective

Posted By Justin Ruen, Wednesday, January 18, 2017

This afternoon the House Local Government Committee heard about the important roles that cities play in protecting public safety, building infrastructure necessary for economic development, and providing the cultural and recreational amenities that improve quality of life. 

AIC Executive Director Seth Grigg gave a presentation on the basics of city government, which discussed the unique role that cities play in Idaho’s system of local government.   Following this presentation, two Treasure Valley mayors—John Evans of Garden City and Joe Stear of Kuna—spoke about the issues facing their communities and their policy recommendations for the Legislature.

“Cities are created by their inhabitants to provide services necessary for an urban community,” Grigg said, “like law enforcement, fire protection, domestic water, sewage collection and treatment, streets, parks and libraries.”

“Idaho law encourages urban development to occur within cities, which ensures cost efficient delivery of urban services and protects agricultural and timber land from development,” Grigg noted. 

A recent survey of city officials found that the most important issue facing cities is infrastructure, which includes the challenge of replacing outdated infrastructure and escalating costs of compliance with the Clean Water Act and other federal environmental regulations.

“Cities greatly appreciate the Idaho Legislature’s decision to increase transportation funding and this revenue is definitely needed,” Grigg said.  If state surplus eliminator funding for transportation projects is reauthorized, Grigg suggested that it be shared with local highway jurisdictions, creating a fund for road and bridge projects that would allow smaller cities, counties and highway districts to pay for needed capital projects.

Mayor Joe Stear of Kuna said “local governments are working hard to cooperate and find collaborative solutions to local challenges.”  He cited the example of the Treasure Valley Partnership, which brings together mayors and county commissioners in a forum to encourage regional coordination, cooperation and collaboration. 

Stear also expressed support for state and local economic development incentives, like the Tax Reimbursement Incentive that provides a tax credit of up to 30 percent on income, payroll and sales taxes for up to 15 years for new or expanding companies.    

AIC Past President and Legislative Chair John Evans, Mayor of Garden City said, “Our goal in Garden City is to foster an environment where the private sector can come in and succeed.  Development doesn’t start above the ground, it starts below the ground with the essential water and sewer infrastructure that allows development to occur.” 

Evans said that the state Justice Reinvestment Initiative, which aimed to reduce corrections costs by reducing incarceration of nonviolent offenders and more efficiently getting offenders into parole, is putting police at risk as recently released offenders are committing violent crimes.  He suggested that policymakers look carefully at dedicating resources to more effectively monitoring and integrating recently released offenders. 

 

 

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City Officials Will Present to House Local Government Committee

Posted By Justin Ruen, Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Today at 1:30 p.m. Mountain Time the House Local Government Committee will hear a presentation on city government in Idaho featuring AIC Past President and Legislative Chair John Evans, Mayor of Garden City; Mayor Joe Stear of Kuna; and AIC Executive Director Seth Grigg.

You can listen to the committee meeting by clicking this link to the Idaho in Session website, scrolling down to "Committees/Locations" and selecting "Committees."  

Under "Choose a committee type" select "House."  

Under "Choose a committee" select "Local Government EW05."  

Finally click "Launch a media player."  

The media player works in Internet Explorer, so if you use Google Chrome for your web browser you will need to click "Try the Chrome/IOS device stream" on the media player.

The House Local Government Committee also has on its agenda for today the introduction of a housekeeping bill that will make corrections to last session's urban renewal reform bill.  

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AIC Solicits Feedback on Campaign Finance Legislation

Posted By Justin Ruen, Friday, January 13, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, January 17, 2017

In the wake of the failure of a statewide campaign finance reform initiative to get on the ballot last year, the Idaho Secretary of State’s office has drafted legislation that would strengthen penalties and make other important changes to Idaho’s Sunshine Law. 

Idaho Secretary of State Lawerence Denney has asked for city officials to review and comment on the draft, which can be accessed via this link

Currently, campaign finance reporting is required for all candidates and political groups in cities over 5,000 population.  Last session, legislation was introduced that would have required reporting in cities of all sizes, but that proposal was defeated in the Senate State Affairs Committee.

The paradigm shift proposed by the Secretary of State’s legislation is to eliminate the population threshold for city campaign finance reporting and require reporting from any candidate or political committee that raises or spends at least $500 in an election campaign.  Regardless of the city’s population size, any candidate or political group that raised or spent at least $500 in an election campaign would have to file campaign finance reports.   

This change would help transparency in elections by focusing reporting requirements on candidates and political groups that are raising and spending money.  The current population threshold requires considerable effort by write-in candidates and others who raise and spend little, if any, money.  This is time consuming for city clerks, who often must personally fill out reports for these candidates who may only spend a few bucks out of their own pocket for their campaign.

Other changes proposed by the legislation include:

·         Requiring electronic filing of campaign finance reports.

·         Requiring 48-hour notice of contributions of $1,000 or more at any point during the campaign, not just within a narrow timeframe before the election, as is currently the case.

·         Increasing penalties for Sunshine Law violations from $250 to $2,500 for an individual and from $2,500 to $10,000 for a business, PAC or other political organization.

·         Clarifying that expenditures must be reported when the funds have been contractually obligated or committed, whether by oral or written agreement.

 

The legislation would not change the contribution limit for city elections, which is currently $1,000 per contributor (individual, business or PAC), except for the candidate who can contribute or loan unlimited amounts to their own campaign.

AIC asks city officials to review the draft legislation and reply with comments to Policy Analyst Justin Ruen at jruen@idahocities.org

 

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Important Registration Deadlines for AIC City Officials Day at the Capitol are Fast Approaching

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, January 4, 2017
Updated: Monday, December 19, 2016

AIC’s annual City Officials Day at the Capitol is now only three weeks away. AIC requests that those interested in attending the event register by Thursday, January 19th to assist in developing accurate meal counts. Those wishing to stay the night in Boise on the night of the 25th can make reservations for $91.00 a night at the Grove Hotel. For reservations please call (208) 489-2222 and ask for the Association of Idaho Cities room block. The deadline to make a reservation through the AIC room block is January 6, 2017.

This year AIC is restructuring its annual City Officials Day at the Capitol. The event will be held Thursday, January 26 in Boise. The big change is that AIC has arranged to bring city officials to the Capitol for much of the program. While in prior years the event has been held offsite, this year the morning sessions, including a breakfast reception, will be held at the Idaho State Capitol. This means that in place of doing a sit-down luncheon for legislators at the Boise Centre, AIC will be hosting an early morning breakfast reception for city officials and legislators at the Capitol in the beautiful 4th Floor Rotunda. This will bring city officials to the Capitol to meet with their legislators to discuss important issues over a casual breakfast in a historic setting. AIC will provide shuttle service for city officials staying at the Grove Hotel to and from the Capitol (more information below).

The reception is designed such that city officials and legislators can come and go as schedules allow during the breakfast reception period between 7:00 am and 8:30 am. City officials are encouraged to arrange a time to meet with their legislators at the capitol and escort them to the breakfast reception at a time that is convenient for your legislators. AIC staff is willing to assist you in scheduling a time to meet with your legislator during the 1.5-hour window if needed. AIC is excited to have a presence of city officials at the Capitol.

After the breakfast reception, AIC will convene city officials in the West Wing Garden Level (basement) of the Capitol in the Lincoln Auditorium to officially kick off City Officials Day at the Capitol. AIC members will be able to pick up their name badge and event agenda at the Lincoln Auditorium entrance. The Lincoln Auditorium Session will run from 8:30am to 10:00am and feature several interactive presentations and panels. Among the panel presentations will be a legislative leadership panel and a media pundits panel. The legislative leadership panel will feature representatives from House and Senate leadership and focus on what legislative leaders expect to happen during the 2017 Legislative Session. The media pundits panel will feature panelists from the press corps and provide insights into what the media sees as the driving issues of the 2017 Legislative Session.

After the Lincoln Auditorium Session, AIC will provide shuttle service from the Capitol to Boise Centre East for a legislative briefing for city officials. The legislative briefing will take place at 10:30am in room 410 in the Boise Centre East. AIC staff and other invited guests will update city officials on AIC’s legislative initiatives as well as legislative proposals from other stakeholder groups that affect cities.

A luncheon for city officials will take place at 12:00 pm in Boise Centre East Room 400. Because city officials will have had breakfast with their legislators earlier in the morning, this year’s City Officials Day Luncheon will be for city officials only. Lieutenant Governor Brad Little will be our keynote speaker..

Below you will find additional information about the event including the tentative agenda, event registration, lodging, parking, and shuttle logistics.

 

 

Event Registration: Registration for City Officials Day at the Capitol is open. AIC members can register for the event at the following website: http://idahocities.org/?page=CODC. Registration is $50 and covers the cost of breakfast, lunch and meeting materials. Please note that refunds will not be issued for registrations canceled after January 19, 2017.

Overnight Lodging: Those wishing to stay the night in Boise on the night of the 25th can make reservations for $91.00 a night at the Grove Hotel. For reservations please call (208) 489-2222 and ask for the Association of Idaho Cities room block. The deadline to make a reservation through the AIC room block is January 6, 2017.

Transportation Logistics: Parking downtown can be a challenge. AIC will arrange for a shuttle service to transport city officials staying at the Grove Hotel to and from the Idaho Capitol. A shuttle will leave the Grove Hotel to the Capitol every fifteen minutes from 7:00 am to 8:00 am. Shuttle service will return from the Capitol to the Boise Centre from 10:00 am to 10:30 am. Limited parking is also available around the Capitol including paid street parking directly adjacent to the Capitol. There is also a free parking lot with limited Capitol Mall three-hour parking spaces at the Idaho Law and  Justice Learning Center located at 514 W Jefferson (parking lot entrances are located on N. 5th St, State Street, or N. 6th Street). Plan to arrive early if you plan on utilizing one of these prized free Capitol Mall parking spots.

 

 

Association of Idaho Cities

City Officials Day at the Capitol

Tentative Agenda

Session 1:       Breakfast Reception with Legislators from 7:00 am to 8:30 am at the Idaho State                               Capitol

7:00 am             Breakfast Reception with Legislators – 4th Floor Rotunda, Idaho State Capitol

Come to the Capitol and accompany your legislators to the 4th Floor Rotunda and enjoy a breakfast reception in the historic Idaho Capitol. Stop by with your legislators for a bite to eat anytime between 7:00 am and 8:30 am. AIC will provide shuttle service from the Grove Hotel to the State Capitol every 15 minutes between 7:00am and 8:00 am to make the logistics of getting to and from the Capitol easier.

Session 2:        Opening Session from 8:30 am to 10:00 am in the Lincoln Auditorium at the Idaho                            State Capitol

8:30 am              Welcome and Introductions – Pocatello Mayor Brian Blad, AIC President                      

8:45 am             Overview of Capitol Building, Legislative Process, and Staffing – TBD

9:00 am              Legislative Leadership Panel – TBD

9:30 am              Media Pundits Panel – TBD

10:00 am            Shuttle Service Back to Boise Centre

Session 3:         Legislative Briefing and Luncheon for City Officials at the Boise Centre East

10:30 am            AIC Legislative Briefing – Boise Centre East Room 410

AIC staff and invited guests from other legislative stakeholder groups will brief city officials on legislation affecting cities.

12:00 pm            Luncheon for City Officials with Lt. Gov. Brad Little – Boise Centre East Room 400

Because city officials will have had breakfast with their legislators earlier in the morning, the luncheon will be structured differently this year. A special guest speaker will be invited to speak to city officials over lunch about the 2017 Legislative Session. Governor Otter has been invited to be our featured speaker; however, given his unpredictable schedule, his office has yet to confirm his attendance.

1:15 pm              AIC Legislative Briefing – Boise Centre East Room 410

AIC staff will wrap up the legislative briefing and the membership will be invited to take positions on issues (as needed).

3:00 pm              Adjourn

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Road & Street Finance Report Deadline Approaches

Posted By Justin Ruen, Thursday, December 29, 2016

The deadline to submit the Annual Road & Street Finance Report is fast approaching.  The Q&A below covers some basic information about the reporting requirements.

Question: Why must cities complete and submit the Annual Road & Street Finance Report to the state?

Article VII, Section 17 of the Idaho Constitution requires that the proceeds of taxes on gasoline and other motor vehicle fuels, as well as vehicle registration fees, be spent solely on “construction, repair, maintenance and traffic supervision of the public highways of this state…and no part of such revenues shall, by transfer of funds or otherwise, be diverted to any other purposes whatsoever.”

The state Highway Distribution Account allocates revenues from state fuel taxes, vehicle registration fees and other miscellaneous sources to the Idaho Transportation Department, local highway jurisdictions and the Idaho State Police. 

To ensure accountability and transparency in the spending of these dedicated revenues, Idaho Code 40-708 requires that local highway jurisdictions submit an annual report to the State Controller’s office listing revenues and expenditures for the recently completed fiscal year for construction, maintenance and administration of streets, bridges and culverts. 

It is critical that the form be completed accurately because this information is scrutinized by legislators and Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) officials.

Question: Is any training available to help city officials understand how to fill out the report?

Yes.  City officials can watch online training videos featuring Susan Lasuen of the Local Highway Technical Assistance Council (LHTAC).  Links to webinar video, Page 1 Instruction Video, Page 2 Instruction Video, and Page 3 Instruction Video

Question: When are the deadlines for submitting and publishing the report?

The report for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2016 must be submitted to the Office of the State Controller (P.O. Box 83720, Boise, ID 83720-0011) by December 31, 2016.   The report must also be published once as a legal notice in the official city newspaper between January 1- 15, 2017.

Question: Where can I find the report form and other information?

There are several helpful documents on the Idaho Transportation Department website at http://itd.idaho.gov/funding/ under “Local Roads” and then “Forms for Local Government Road & Street Finance Reports.”

·         Online reporting forms for the Road & Street Finance Report, as well as HB 312 reporting.

 

·         Automated and non-automated Excel report forms.

 

·         Instructions for filling out the report.

LHTAC also has the reporting forms, instructions and links to the videos on their website.

Question: Does our city need to provide information concerning highway construction and maintenance projects and activities occurring during the fiscal year? 

Yes.  The report includes a section on construction, reconstruction and maintenance activities performed throughout the year.  The purpose of these questions is to give state policymakers information on what local highway jurisdictions are able to accomplish with their limited resources.  The information which must be provided is outlined below.

New Construction

Total lane miles constructed.

Total square feet of bridge deck constructed.

Reconstruction / Replacement / Rehabilitation

Total lane miles rebuilt, realigned, or overlay.

Total square feet of bridge deck reconstructed or rehabilitated.

Routine Maintenance

Total lane miles chip sealed or seal coated.

Total lane miles graded or bladed.

You will likely need to get this information from your City Engineer, Public Works Director or Maintenance Supervisor.

Question: What are the consequences of failing to submit the report?

Idaho Code 40-708 empowers the State Controller to withhold Highway Distribution Account revenue from any local highway jurisdiction that has failed to submit the report. 

The law also provides that failure to submit or publish the report, or making false statements in the report is grounds for removal from office, as well as a criminal misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500 and imprisonment for up to 90 days.  

Question: Who can I call for help on completing the report?

Susan Lasuen at the Local Highway Technical Assistance Council (at (208) 344-0565 or slasuen@lhtac.org) has great expertise in this area.  Justin Ruen at AIC ((208) 344-8594 or jruen@idahocities.org) is also a helpful resource.

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Toxics Criteria for Human Health and Aquatic Life

Posted By Johanna Bell, Thursday, December 15, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Clean Water Act requires that States update their toxic criteria every three years – a change made in the Clean Water Act in 1987 to reflect Congressional concern about the slow pace of improving toxics controls.  This applies to the human health criteria that are based on assumptions of fish consumption.  It also applies to criteria that are intended to protect aquatic life, such as threatened and endangered species.  


Criteria become the water quality goals for waters of the state, target for TMDLs, and may be used to establish limitations and other required actions such as Pollutant Minimization Plans and monitoring requirements for regulated point sources (i.e., stormwater, wastewater, potable water treatment facility permits, etc.).  Most of Idaho's human health standards for toxics in surface water have not been updated since 1992.


Since 1992, EPA has updated its guidance for deriving human health toxic water quality criteria in its Methodology for Deriving Ambient Water Quality Criteria for the Protection of Human Health (2000).  The 2000 Methodology increased the national default average fish consumption rate from 6.5 grams/day to 17.5 grams/day (the equivalent of 18.5 ounces of fish per month or 6.2 three ounce-servings each month).  EPA has also updated the CWA Section 304(a) recommended criteria to reflect this change in the national default fish consumption assumption.  For subsistence fishers, EPA recommended a national default consumption rate of 142.4 grams/day (the equivalent of 150 ounces per month or 50 three ounce-servings each month). In the 2000 Methodology, EPA also adopted guidance directing states to use local data on fish consumption when it was available.


EPA recently reviewed Washington State’s proposed toxics criteria and implementation guidance according to a court ordered date to approve or disapprove the criteria no later than November 15, 2016.  Most of Washington's human health standards for toxics in surface water also have not been updated since 1992. The new set of standards adopted by EPA is based on more recent science about health protection and fish consumption rates.  Specifically, the water quality standards now in place for Washington are based on the most sensitive population, typically tribes with treaty-protected rights, with a daily fish consumption rate of 175 grams/day (the equivalent of 185 ounces per month or 62 three ounce-servings each month) and a one-in-one million cancer risk level.


In the review, EPA also approved Washington’s revisions to its variance and compliance schedule provisions, which give the State and affected industries and municipalities some additional flexibility and time to implement the new standards while making reasonable progress in improving water quality.


Toxics rulemaking for Idaho was initiated in October 2012 in response to EPA’s disapproval of Idaho’s proposed criteria earlier that year.  Idaho concluded water quality toxics criteria rulemaking in May 2016 and submitted the toxics rulemaking package to EPA for review, approval, or disapproval on December 13, 2016.  

 

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New Bacteria Criteria

Posted By Johanna Bell, Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, December 14, 2016

EPA, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and National Institutes of Health (NIH) are jointly updating the 100+ year old bacteria approach for protection of human health.  The agencies anticipate use of a new science based coliphage approach for bacteria and viruses for enhanced protection of food, beaches, and surface waters under the Clean Water Act.  


The joint effort will likely result in new beach closure thresholds and testing methods, and new recreational water quality criteria and testing methods for bacteria and viruses in State Water Quality Standards.  These changes may require new disinfection practices for municipal waste water treatment facilities (e.g. advanced oxidation and UV) so are a particularly important consideration for facilities undergoing or about to embark on facilities’ planning efforts.  

Information on EPA’s coliphage effort can be found HERE

 

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Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Internet Sales Tax Case

Posted By Justin Ruen, Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The following update on the legal saga surrounding Internet sales tax is from Lisa Soronen of the State & Local Legal Center.

The Quill saga continues…
 
The Supreme Court refused to hear a case involving the question of whether a Colorado law requiring remote sellers to inform Colorado purchasers annually of their purchases and send the same information to the Colorado Department of Revenue is unconstitutional. As is always the case, the Supreme Court gave no reason for denying the petition.   

In Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, decided in 1992, the Supreme Court held that states cannot require retailers with no in-state physical presence to collect sales tax. In 2010 the Colorado legislature passed the law described above to improve sales tax collection. The Direct Marketing Association sued Colorado claiming the law unconstitutionally discriminates against interstate commerce and is unconstitutional under Quill.   

In February 2016 in Direct Marketing Association v. Brohl, the Tenth Circuit concluded the Colorado law doesn’t discriminate against interstate commerce. DMA was unable to point to any evidence that the notice and reporting requirements imposed on out-of-state retailers are more burdensome than the sales tax collection and administration requirements imposed on in-state retailers. Quill does not apply to the law, the Tenth Circuit reasoned, because it “applies narrowly to sales and use tax collection.”

DMA filed a petition for certiorari asking the Supreme Court to review the Tenth Circuit’s ruling that Colorado’s law discriminates against interstate commerce.

The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief encouraging the Court not to decide this case. The brief argued that the Tenth Circuit ruled correctly on the interstate commerce question and that the only “interesting and important” question lurking in this case is whether the Supreme Court should overrule Quill.
 
In March 2015 the Supreme Court held unanimously that the Tax Injunction Act did not bar the Tenth Circuit (instead of a state court) from deciding whether Colorado’s law was unconstitutional. Justice Kennedy wrote a concurring opinion, which appeared to rely on the SLLC’s amicus brief, stating that the “legal system should find an appropriate case for this Court to reexamine Quill.”
 
DMA’s cert petition didn’t raise the question of whether Quill should be overturned. However, the SLLC amicus brief pointed out that if the Court is interesting in taking on this question it will be before the Court in no time. “Three States have already taken affirmative steps to challenge Quill head on, passing carefully tailored legislation or administrative rules that precisely frame the question whether [Quill’s] ‘physical presence’ standard should be replaced with an ‘economic nexus’ rule under which sellers can be required to collect state sales tax if they transact a large amount of business in a given state.”

The SLLC urged the Supreme Court to wait and accept one of these cases when they are ready for Supreme Court review and overrule Quill. 

Eric Citron, Goldstein & Russell and Ron Parsons, Johnson Janklow Abdallah Zeiter & Parsons wrote the SLLC brief which the following organizations joined: the National Governors Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Council of State Governments, the National Association of Counties, the National League of Cities, the United States Conference of Mayors, the International City/County Management Association, the International Municipal Lawyers Association, and the Government Finance Officers Association.  

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AIC Legislative Committee Meeting Summary: Dec. 1, 2016

Posted By Justin Ruen, Monday, December 12, 2016

Welcome & Introductions: The meeting was called to order by AIC Legislative Chair John Evans, Mayor of Garden City, who led self-introductions.

Stormwater Phase II MS4 Permits:  AIC Policy Analyst Johanna Bell reported that a public review draft of a new Phase II municipal stormwater general permit will be released soon by the Region 10 office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The federal Clean Water Act established the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program, which requires municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s) that discharge into waterways to implement stormwater management programs to protect water quality.  

The Minimum Control Measures required under these permits impact facility planning, operation and maintenance, as well as regulation of development, and include:

·         Construction Site Runoff Control,

·         Storm Water Management for Areas of New Development and Redevelopment,

·         Storm Water Infrastructure and Street Management,

·         Illicit Discharge Management, and

·         Education, Outreach and Public Involvement.

MS4 permits impact city operations and best management practices, and put cities in the position of adopting regulations that impact numerous commercial activities such as construction, new development, and industrial operations.

The first NPDES stormwater permits in Idaho were issued to the Boise urban area in 2000 under Phase I, which included the cities of Boise and Garden City, Ada County Highway District, Ada County Drainage District #3, Boise State University and Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) District 3.  One thing to notice is that these permits are issued to a variety of entities including cities, highway districts, counties, universities, and urban drainage districts.

Since 2006, EPA has issued 16 individual NPDES permits to Phase II urban areas (UAs) including Coeur d’Alene, Nampa/Caldwell, Pocatello, and Idaho Falls.  The next permit will include eight additional entities, including those located in Lewiston and Moscow. 

AIC Executive Director Seth Grigg said that cities face real challenges with these unfunded federal mandates and AIC wants to help identify a sustainable source of program funding.  There are two options: a utility-style fee, or an assessment that would be paid by property owners like assessments levied by drainage districts.  There are strengths and weaknesses to both approaches and it’s not clear at this point which alternative is better.  Either of these options would be better than levying property taxes, where high end residential, commercial and industrial properties end up paying more than their fair share.

Grigg said this is going to be a long-term effort to educate legislators about the issue and work toward an equitable funding solution.   

Use of City Rights-of-Way for 5G Wireless: AIC Counsel Jerry Mason said that the technology for 5th generation wireless (5G) is different than earlier generations and that some of the sites must be closer together because of the spectrum used.  Mobilitie and Crown Castle are seeking to take advantage of the Idaho Constitution’s franchise grant for telephone companies and have sought to obtain service provider certificates from the Idaho Public Utilities Commission, but they are not phone companies. 

Their goal is to locate poles up to 130 feet tall in city rights-of-way for new 5G technology.  Mason said this could result in obstructions to travel and cities should very seriously consider whether these massive poles belong in city rights-of-way.  The first four generations of wireless technology relied on locations on private property and 5G should follow the same path. 

Municipal Water Update: Chris Bromley of McHugh Bromley said that the North Idaho water rights adjudication is proceeding, but there have been delays in Basin 95, which will be divided into two phases.  Phase 1 will include the cities of Athol, Coeur d’Alene, Fernan Lake, Hayden, Post Falls, Rathdrum, and Spirit Lake and will likely be completed in Fall 2017.  Phase 2 will include the city of Plummer and will likely be completed in 2018.    

Bromley reported that there is now greater clarity on the issue of interconnected well transfers, which is a condition reflected in water rights for the City of Pocatello during Snake River Basin Adjudication.   In the case of a basin wide curtailment, this condition allows the city to designate the wells that will pump senior water rights and even use relatively junior wells for that purpose.  This will allow cities the flexibility to best meet their needs.    

Bromley reported that the Director of the Idaho Department of Water Resources has designated a ground water management area (GWMA) for the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer, which is aimed at developing a plan for the sustainable management of the aquifer.  The GWMA covers a vastly larger area than other existing GWMAs.  Petitions for reconsideration have been filed by cities and the Director must consider those petitions and may have a hearing. 

Twenty-four cities are participating in a mitigation plan under the Surface Water Coalition (SWC) delivery call that expires December 31, 2016.  The participating cities include: Aberdeen, Ammon, Blackfoot, Bliss, Carey, Chubbuck, Declo, Dietrich, Gooding, Hazelton, Heyburn, Idaho Falls, Iona, Jerome, Paul, Richfield, Rupert, Shoshone, Pocatello, Rigby, Ririe, Roberts, Sugar City and Wendell.  Cities have been trying to negotiate a new mitigation agreement with the SWC for over a year, but the coalition has little need to negotiate when they are getting everything they want from the GWMA.

Local Government Purchasing Law Updates: Keith Watts of the City of Meridian and Bob Perkins of Ada County discussed their concepts for possible improvements to the local government purchasing law (Idaho Code Title 67, Chapter 28).  In addition to looking at the procurement thresholds, Watts and Perkins said that they are also interested in raising the threshold for use of a licensed public works contractor from $10,000 to $50,000.  They expressed their desire to get feedback from city officials about what works in the current law and areas that could be improved. 

Idaho School Boards Association Legislative Priorities: Jess Harrison of the Idaho School Boards Association (ISBA) gave an update on the association’s legislative priorities for the upcoming session.  She noted that ISBA will continue working with the Newspaper Association of Idaho on legislation proposed last session to permit local governing boards to discuss acquisition of real property in executive session.  

Harrison noted that the executive session statute is currently being interpreted to require four of the five members of the school board to vote in favor of a motion to go into executive session, which poses real challenges given the large number of school board vacancies.  The association would like to have a school board specific provision requiring only a simple majority of the board to vote in favor of an executive session. 

ISBA is also interested in looking at alternatives to general obligation bonds for school construction funding, and is considering development impact fees.  While impact fees would benefit districts that are growing, they would not be any help in districts where population is steady or declining.

Online Sales Tax: Pam Eaton of the Idaho Retailers Association said that the future of online sales and use tax legislation is likely expanding the definition of “nexus” to include not just brick and mortar stores, but office or administrative buildings, paid employees, shipping or storage facilities, etc.  Eaton said a conservative estimate of additional sales and use tax revenue that would result from nexus legislation would be $30-40 million annually.  

Regulation of Home Rentals: John Eaton of the Idaho Association of Realtors said that his association wants to engage with AIC to develop state legislation protecting homeowners’ rights to rent their homes, while at the same time ensuring local flexibility to regulate in the community’s best interests. 

Safe Routes to School: Erin Bennett of the American Heart Association and Cynthia Gibson of the Idaho Walk Bike Alliance said these groups are working to secure a dedicated state funding source for safe routes to school.  The limited federal funds available are not able to meet the very real needs in Idaho communities for biking and pedestrian routes.   

Medicaid Gap: Liz Woodruff of the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy said that legislation to help the 78,000 Idahoans in the Medicaid gap appears unlikely at this point.  These people earn too much to be eligible for Medicaid and don’t earn enough to qualify for subsidized health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act. 

Woodruff said that we face the very real possibility of congressional repeal of the Affordable Care Act and potentially turning Medicaid into a block grant program.  Closing the Medicaid gap is important for Idaho cities because these people have no access to mental health or substance abuse treatment, which results in challenges for local law enforcement.

There are some legislators who have endorsed the Primary Care Access Program, which would provide up to $30 million in state funding for primary care for those in the gap population.  Woodruff said that primary care is a great starting point, but it is not a complete answer.

North Idaho Building Contractors Association v. Hayden: Brett Boyer, City Administrator for Hayden, said that the city was sued by the North Idaho Building Contractors Association over its sewer capitalization fees.  The Idaho Supreme Court held that the city’s approach to calculating capitalization fees using future build out was unreasonable and sent the case back down to the district court for further proceedings. 

Boyer said it is imperative for cities to use the equity buy-in approach for calculating fees, which divides the present system replacement value by the number of present system users.  The city’s consultant calculated the fee according to the equity buy-in approach and determined that the city’s fee was reasonable.  The case will likely be appealed again to the Idaho Supreme Court.

Transportation Revenue: Seth Grigg reported that the new transportation revenue amounting to $95 million annually is a help, but it is only a down payment on the $250 million annual state and local transportation funding shortfall.  AIC is hoping that the need to reauthorize the state surplus eliminator—which dedicates half of the state general fund surplus to transportation projects—will provide an opportunity for local highway jurisdictions to get a share of the revenue.  An idea with considerable merit is to use these funds for project grants to help local highway jurisdictions pay for highway and bridge projects.

Liquor by the Drink Licensing in Resort Communities: Seth Grigg reported that the City of Driggs will be sponsoring legislation again in the upcoming session to provide nontransferable liquor by the drink licenses for bona fide restaurants in resort communities.  These communities face real challenges because their resident population, which serves as the basis for determining the number of liquor by the drink licenses, is very small relative to their seasonal tourist population. 

Idaho Association of Counties Legislative Priorities: Teresa Baker of the Idaho Association of Counties (IAC) said that a legislative proposal sponsored by Ada County that would have relieved cities of the obligation of providing magistrate court facilities, while taking cities’ fine revenue to provide additional court funding, was tabled by the IAC board. 

Baker noted that IAC will be sponsoring legislation on the following issues of relevance for cities:  defining retention periods for body camera and other types of public safety video recordings; changing emergency dispatchers from the rule of 90 to the rule of 80 for PERSI purposes, which matches police and fire; and changes to clarify the whistleblower statute.

PERSI Hot Topics and Legislation: Don Drum of the Public Employee Retirement System of Idaho (PERSI) said that the PERSI board approved a 1% contribution rate increase at its October meeting.  This increase would take effect July 1, 2018 at the earliest.  Drum said that the increase would be paid 60% by employers and 40% by employees.  The board will look at the fund’s recent investment performance to determine if this increase is really necessary. 

Drum reported that the Professional Fire Fighters of Idaho are sponsoring legislation to provide an unreduced spousal contingent annuitant benefit for public safety (Class 2) members only.  This will not increase contribution rates for employers; the full cost will be paid through a 1.54% rate increase for public safety employees.  This will be mandatory for all public safety employees. 

Jeff Souza, Councilmember for Garden City, reported on a legislative proposal that would ban public sector employers from paying an employee’s PERSI contribution.  He argues that this practice is inequitable because very few employees benefit from it and it serves to mask the true amount an employee is being paid. 

Aerial Fireworks: Boise Fire Chief Dennis Doan said that setting off aerial fireworks is illegal in Idaho, but these fireworks can be easily purchased by certifying that the purchaser is a wholesaler who is taking them out of state.  The wholesaler loophole is getting considerable public and political scrutiny after a 19-year-old set off a 2,600 acre fire in the Table Rock area north of Boise last July that destroyed a home and an outbuilding.   Chief Doan said that the Idaho Fire Chiefs Association will be sponsoring legislation to close the wholesaler loophole.    

Electric Bikes: Seth Grigg reported that legislation has been drafted by Rep. Phylis King of Boise to include electric bikes in state code definitions of bicycles and allow electric bikes anywhere conventional bicycles are allowed.   

Local Option Building Code Exemptions for Owner-Builders: Jerry Mason reported that a Kootenai County Commissioner has proposed legislation creating a local option exemption for an owner-builder of a single-family residence to be exempt from building codes.  The owner-builder would still be required to comply with plumbing and electrical codes.  Mason said it makes no sense to provide an exemption for people with no demonstrated competence. 

Magistrate Court Funding: Mayor John Evans of Garden City said that the cities of Meridian and Garden City are awaiting a ruling from a panel of Ada County district judges who will decide whether one or both cities must construct magistrate court facilities pursuant to a 1994 order that predates the construction of the Ada County Courthouse. 

Evans said this issue has real significance for all cities and suggested that it’s time for representatives of cities, counties and the courts to sit down and find a sustainable funding source for magistrate courts that does not take cities’ fine revenue that helps pay the costs of law enforcement.

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