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The AIC Blog connects the association staff to our membership, provides informative updates on state and federal policy issues, and spotlights upcoming AIC training, conferences and events.

 

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Top tags: City Officials' Day at the Capitol 

Funding Opportunity: Senior Corps Program

Posted By Justin Ruen, Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The Corporation for National and Community Service is accepting grant applications for its Senior Corps Program through Wednesday, November 7, 2018.  Over $340,000 is available for the State of Idaho.  Detailed information about the grant can be be found in the Notice: Fiscal Year 2019 RSVP Competition.

 

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Nationwide Emergency Alert System and Wireless Alert System Test - Scheduled for October 3, 2018

Posted By Johanna M. Bell, Monday, October 1, 2018

This Wednesday there will be a test of the country's wireless emergency alerting system for ALL cell phones!

For more information, click HERE.

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Speaker Series: Microgrid, Storage, & Smartgrid - Driving Innovation for a Secure and Prosperous Idaho

Posted By Johanna M. Bell, Monday, October 1, 2018

Mark your calendars for  a FREE Idaho Energy Innovation event scheduled for Boise on October 10th and Idaho Falls on October 11th!

Military, corporations and governments in the U.S. and around the world are turning to microgrids, storage and local renewable energy resources to increase security and optimize economics. With abundant  opportunities for solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass, Idaho is well positioned to take advantage of the rapidly growing markets for renewable energy. Idaho’s energy independence increases energy security, reliability, jobs and state income.

BOISE - Wednesday, Oct 10, 2018, from 1 to 2:30 PM

Hyatt Place, Meeting Place 1, 1024 W Bannock Street


IDAHO FALLS - Thursday, Oct 11, 2018, from 1 to 2:30 PM

Center for Advanced Energy Studies, 995 University Boulevard

*Snacks will be served for networking after; INL & CAES tours available in Idaho Falls

 

Confirmed Speakers:

Todd Haynes, Renewable Energy Project Manager, Power Engineers

Kurt Myers, Renewable Energy Project Manager, Idaho National Laboratory

Kate Gordon, Founding Director, Risky Business Project

Mitch Colburn Resource Planning and Operations Director, Oct 10

Jared Hansen, Transmission and Distribution Planning Engineer Lead, Oct 11

 

Register HERE

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WIFIA Information Session - Join EPA in Seattle on October 11th

Posted By Johanna M. Bell, Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program seeks to accelerate investments in our nation’s water infrastructure by providing long-term, low-cost supplemental loans for regionally and nationally significant projects.

In April 2018, EPA announced the availability of additional WIFIA funding that could provide as much as $5.5 billion in loans. Leveraging private capital and other funding sources, these projects could support $11 billion in water infrastructure investment and create up to 170,000 jobs. Prospective borrowers responding to the 2018 NOFA were required to submit a letter of interest by July 31, 2018.

EPA is currently evaluating the submitted letters of interest for project eligibility, credit worthiness, engineering feasibility, and alignment with WIFIA’s statutory and regulatory criteria. Through this competitive process, EPA selects projects it intends to finance and invites them to submit a formal application this fall.As of now, the only project submitted from Idaho is for the Cat Creek Renewable Generation Station (CCRGS).

Join EPA on October 11th for a WIFIA Information Session to find out whether these funds might be a good fit for your Idaho utility.

Background
Established by the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2014, the WIFIA program is a new federal loan and guarantee program at EPA that aims to accelerate investment in the nation’s water infrastructure by providing long-term, low-cost supplemental credit assistance for regionally and nationally significant projects. 

Congress created the WIFIA program at EPA with a five-year authorization as part of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act in 2014. A product of close collaboration between multiple water sector stakeholders and bipartisan infrastructure advocates in Congress, WIFIA was carefully designed to complement EPA’s existing State Revolving Fund (SRF) programs, which predominantly help communities undertake relatively modest infrastructure improvements necessary to achieve or maintain compliance with public health and environmental standards.

The general focus of the SRFs on smaller-scale projects is evidenced in EPA’s data and state practices. For example, EPA’s 2016 Drinking Water SRF Annual Report shows that through June 30, 2016 the DWSRF had provided a total of nearly $32.5 billion in funding assistance to communities nationwide through 12,827 individual assistance agreements – an average of just over $2.5 million per loan. Small communities serving 10,000 people or fewer received 9,044 of these assistance agreements since the program’s inception – about 70 percent – while metropolitan water systems serving more than 100,000 people obtained a total of 897 DWSRF loans through 2016.

In contrast, WIFIA was designed to deliver low-cost financing for large-scale drinking water and wastewater infrastructure projects expected to cost in excess of $20 million. But cities and towns of all sizes are eligible to take part in WIFIA, and the program offers special eligibility incentives to rural communities: at least 15 percent of annual WIFIA funding is reserved for projects in rural areas (defined as communities serving not more than 25,000 people), and these projects need only cost at least $5 million – rather than $20 million – to qualify for funding. Congress also included a specific provision in the WIFIA statute that allows state SRF agencies to compile multiple small projects into a single WIFIA application, creating yet another avenue for small communities to access the program.

Congress made its first appropriation to support WIFIA loans in 2017, and after receiving 43 initial letters of interest EPA invited 12 projects to apply for funding. Those loans are beginning to be finalized, and in the program’s first year WIFIA is expected to offer a total of $2.3 billion in water infrastructure loans – all from an initial FY17 appropriation of $25 million. The March 2018 enacted FY18 omnibus appropriations bill more than doubles funding for WIFIA loans to $55 million – and in April EPA announced the availability of approximately $5.5 billion in new WIFIA credit assistance that  could help support about $11 billion in total water infrastructure investment.  

 

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Opportunity Zone Forum to be Held October 10 in Boise

Posted By Justin Ruen, Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Idaho Opportunity Zones Forum

October 10, 2018   10 am - Noon

Boise, Idaho

Joe R. Williams Building (Hall of Mirrors), First Floor

700 State Street

You are invited to participate in this Idaho Opportunity Zone Forum to be held on October 10, 2018 in Boise.  During this forum, you will learn about the Opportunity Zone Program and the Opportunity Zones located throughout the State of Idaho.  You will also have the opportunity to learn about the investment process, share your views on Idaho's designated Opportunity Zones and the type of investment you feel would benefit the community, and hear perspectives from local leaders.  

Background
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 was signed into law on Dec. 22, 2017. The Opportunity Zone program was included in that act, which was designed to provide tax incentives to investors who fund businesses in underserved communities. Investors are able to defer paying taxes on capital gains that are invested in Qualified Opportunity Funds that in turn are invested in distressed communities designated as Opportunity Zones by each state. 

Parking: There is on street metered parking next to the building.  Three hour guest visitor parking is available at the Capitol Annex (Old Ada County Courthouse) at the corner of 5th and State.  A number of on-street and paid parking lot spaces are available within a 2 block radius of the meeting location. 

Registration link

Event Contacts
Jerry Miller
Idaho Commerce
(208) 761-4052
jerry.miller@commerce.idaho.gov

Craig Nolte
Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco
(206) 296-2192
craig.nolte@sf.frb.org

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9th Annual Northwest Climate Conference - Boise, ID

Posted By Johanna M. Bell, Monday, September 10, 2018

SAVE THE DATE

The 9th Annual Northwest Climate Conference will be held in Boise October 9-11, and a broad range of climate specialists will be in town, along with 300+ attendees. 

 This conference is the premier gathering of individuals working on climate issues in the social, economics, policy, natural resource, and scientific arenas in the region.

In addition to the conference schedule, organizers are seeking to extend the impact of the conference by including two additional opportunities:

1) A free Public Talk on Tuesday, October 9, 7 pm; and

2) Climate experts will be available to meet with interested organizations or individuals.  

For more information, contact Jeff HickeConference Chair at 208-885-6240 or jhicke@uidaho.edu

Jeffrey Hicke
Associate Professor
Department of Geography
University of Idaho



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Outstanding Sessions Planned for ICCTFOA Institute in CDA

Posted By Justin Ruen, Friday, September 7, 2018

There is still time to register for the Idaho City Clerks, Treasurers and Finance Officers Association Institute in Coeur d’Alene September 19-21 at the Best Western Plus Coeur d’Alene Inn.

The Institute will feature many outstanding presenters and workshops.  Just a sampling of these are outlined below.

Clerks 101

This session will cover the basics for new and veteran city clerks, including helpful information and insight on roles and responsibilities, open meetings and public records.  Presenters include: Debbie Geyer, City Clerk from Caldwell; Nila Jurkovich, City Clerk-Treasurer from Kellogg; and Justin Ruen of AIC.

Cyber Risk & Public Records in a Digital Age

Did you know your city has cyber liability coverage included in your ICRMP insurance policy? Learn about cyber risks and what to do when you get invaded by malware. You will also learn about policies and training to protect city employees' privacy and protect the city from potential liability in the realm of electronic public records.  Presenters include: Mary Kummer and Jim McNall of ICRMP.

How to Address Aging City Infrastructure

Kristina Gillespie of Mountain Waterworks will discuss the general state of utility infrastructure in Idaho, budgeting best practices to fund depreciation of assets, and review existing capital replacement funding models.  Hearing case studies involving Idaho communities will help participants learn how to develop long-term solutions to maintain and replace capital infrastructure.

Fundamentals of Grant Writing for Idaho Cities

Alisa Anderson of the City of Moscow will share resources for finding Federal, State, and local grants, how to outline a plan in advance to write grant proposals based on your city’s needs, and key elements for writing a successful proposal.

Breakfast General Session: U.S. Census - The Road to 2020

The Road to 2020 will provide an overview of the U.S. Census Bureau's outreach and operational timeline for the Los Angeles Regional Census Center. This presentation includes details about how elected officials, local and state governments, and large and small organizations will work together to make sure everyone is counted in the 2020 Census, as well as information about how and when households should submit their responses.

Solving the P&Z Puzzle

AIC Counsel Jerry Mason will provide practical wisdom gained through his experience as a city planner and city attorney on how to have a better planning and zoning process for elected officials, planning and zoning commissioners, staff, applicants and citizens.  Mason will cover fundamentals of public hearings, making legally sound decisions, best practices for informing the public, and recommended post-decision procedures.

Best Practices for Investing City Funds

Former Boise City Treasurer and ICCTFOA Past President Kent Rock will discuss the basics of investing city funds, including requirements of Idaho law, evaluating investment options for safety and return, and best practices for investing city funds.

Doing it Right: Meeting Agendas & Minutes

New Open Meetings Laws affect the way that the City Council, advisory boards, commissions and committees, need to post meetings notices and agendas.  ICCTFOA President BessieJo Wagner and Jim McNall of ICRMP will discuss the new rules as well as best practices for what should and what need not be included in agendas and minutes and how they complement each other.  

Utility Rates & Delinquencies

How do you set utility rates that treat customers fairly while providing enough revenue to meet your system obligations?  And when customers don’t pay their bills, how do you collect what your city is owed?  Both practical and legal pointers will be provided by Jason Faulkner, Finance Director for the city of Post Falls and Jerry Mason, legal counsel for AIC.

Update Your City's Personnel Policy

In this hands-on workshop, Jim McNall and Mary Kummer of ICRMP will demonstrate how you can prepare a draft personnel policy update for your City and identify important decision points for the Mayor and Council in the update process. You will also learn who might need to be involved at various stages in the process. Remember to bring your city’s current Personnel Policy to the workshop!

 

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Flags to be at Half-Staff on Tuesday, Sept. 11 for Patriot Day

Posted By Justin Ruen, Friday, September 7, 2018

Flags are to be at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Tuesday, September 11 to commemorate Patriot Day.  

On Patriot Day, we honor the nearly 3,000 innocent lives taken from us on September 11, 2001, and all of those who so nobly aided their fellow citizens in America’s time of need.  We rededicate ourselves to the ideals that define our country and unite us as one, as we commemorate all the heroes who lost their lives saving others.

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2018 Home Efficiency Forum

Posted By Johanna M. Bell, Thursday, September 6, 2018

The Home Efficiency Forum is an annual event that brings together Northwest building professionals of all kinds to discuss and advance energy-efficient building practices in residential new construction. This year, the theme is Building for the Future. This two-day event offers training, networking opportunities and the chance to tour one of the first projects to participate in the Idaho Power Residential New Construction Pilot Program.

 

Who Should Attend? 

Professionals in the residential new home energy efficiency industry, including: 

  • Raters/Verifiers/Providers
  • Utility Representatives
  • Home Certification Programs
  • Builders/Contractors
  • Manufacturers/Distributors
  • Other Market Actors
  • Architects/Designers

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Idaho Dept. of Commerce Update on Opportunity Zones

Posted By Justin Ruen, Thursday, September 6, 2018

With the passing of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the words “Opportunity Zones” have become very popular and promising in the world of economic development. At Idaho Commerce, we have received a number of questions from investors and communities alike wanting to learn more about the program, better understand how to get involved, and strategize on how to best use the tool to benefit Idaho’s economy.

While there is still quite a bit we don’t know yet, below is a brief update on what we do know about Opportunity Zones and Opportunity Funds at this point. As more information becomes available, Idaho Commerce will be a resource to help communities and investors partner to utilize the program successfully in Idaho.

Idaho Opportunity Zones

Idaho Commerce received 59 applications from Idaho counties, cities and tribes to be designated federal Opportunity Zones. Applications were reviewed by the Idaho Economic Advisory Council (EAC) for recommendation to Governor Otter. On April 9th, 2018, the U.S. Treasury officially certified the Governor’s nomination of the 28 low-income census tracts to become Opportunity Zones in Idaho.

A map of Idaho and other US Opportunity Zones may be found here.

What do we know about Opportunity Zones?

Opportunity Zones are a new tax incentive created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Investors who invest in Opportunity Zones (designated low-income U.S. Census tracks) may receive deferrals and reductions in federal capital gains taxes.

The longer the Opportunity Zone investment is held, the greater the benefits. Investments must be through a Qualified Opportunity Fund which can be established by individuals, trusts, partnerships and S corporations. At least 90% of an Opportunity Fund investment must be physically located in an Opportunity Zone.

Opportunity Funds are self-certifying, meaning that they do not require the pre-approval of state or federal regulators. Any type of appreciable investment ranging from real estate to venture capital may be eligible for the incentive. 1031 exchanges may be rolled into a Qualified Opportunity Fund provided that the investment substantially improves the Opportunity Zone property within 30 months.

Opportunity Zone benefits may be bundled with other state and federal incentives.

What we don’t know

The U.S. Department of Treasury has not issued final guidelines and forms for Opportunity Zone investors. We anticipate those guidelines will be announced sometime this Fall. Idaho Commerce is working with the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco to promote Idaho’s Opportunity Zones and connect communities and investors with the latest information.

Who can I contact to find out more information on Opportunity Zones?

Idaho Commerce is closely monitoring the final guidance from the U.S. Department of Treasury and will continue to update our partners throughout the State. Staff has participated in several webinars and meetings regarding other states efforts to better understand what is expected once the guidelines are finalized. Please feel free to contact Jerry Miller (208-287-0780 or jerry.miller@commerce.idaho.gov) at Idaho Commerce with any questions related to Opportunity Zones.

For additional Opportunity Zone information, please visit these resources:

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