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Top tags: City Officials' Day at the Capitol 

Urban Renewal Interim Committee Holds Inaugural Meeting

Posted By Seth Grigg, Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Urban Renewal Interim Committee held its inaugural meeting on Monday, August 10th in Boise. The committee was established by the Legislature to undertake a complete study of urban renewal and economic development statutes and make recommendations to the Legislature for potential amendments to state law and the constitution. The committee is co-chaired by Senator Dan Johnson (Lewiston) and Representative Rick Youngblood (Nampa). Senate members include Mary Souza (Coeur d’Alene), Chuck Winder (Boise), Maryanne Jordan (Boise), and Jeff Siddoway (Terreton). House members include Kathy Sims (Coeur d’Alene), Robert Anderst (Nampa), Hy Kloc (Boise) and Lance Clow (Twin Falls).

As the committee listened to presentations from urban renewal experts, proponents, and opponents, it became clear that the committee has two camps: one interested in improving urban renewal to make it a more economic development friendly tool (including adding measures for greater transparency and accountability) and one interested in limiting, and even repealing, urban renewal as an economic development tool.

Brief committee discussion was dominated by three themes: agency accountability/transparency, composition of agency board members, and whether or not public buildings should be built with urban renewal funds. In spite of strong presentations highlighting the lack of economic development tools at the local level, in particular when compared to neighboring states like Utah, there was little constructive committee discussion about how to make urban renewal a more economic development friendly tool. That being said, a number of legislators, including Senator Winder and Senator Jordan expressed a desire to discuss enacting a local option tax in addition to urban renewal reforms.

At the end of the day, AIC anticipates that the interim committee will make modest recommendations including establishing an online portal and requiring urban renewal agencies to upload certain plan, project, and budget documents; imposing a penalty for failure to comply with reporting requirements; clarifying board eligibility (elected vs. nonelected, district residency requirements, etc.); and clarifying what public buildings, if any, can be built with urban renewal funds and whether or not a public vote is needed.

The interim committee has scheduled future meetings for September 21st, October 19th, and November 16th. All interim committee meetings will be held at the Capitol building in Boise. The interim committee does plan on utilizing technology, including video conferencing, to take public testimony from throughout the state. AIC will keep city officials up to date about future meeting agendas and opportunities to provide testimony.

Committee materials, including PowerPoint presentations, are available on the interim committee’s website. Please click here to access committee materials.

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Mid Term Legislative Committee Changes

Posted By Seth Grigg, Wednesday, August 19, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Typically changes in legislative leadership occur every two years closely mirroring the state election cycle. The summer of 2015 is far from the norm. Two senior state senators, Dean Cameron (chair of the Senate Finance Committee and co-chair of the Joint Finance and Appropriation Committee – JFAC) and John Tippets (chair of the Senate Commerce and Human Resources Committee) both stepped down to take jobs running state agencies (Governor Otter appointed Cameron to head the Department of Insurance and Tippets to head the Department of Environmental Quality). These resignations set in motion a number of changes that have altered Senate committee leadership and may influence legislative priorities of the Association.

Senator Shawn Keough (Sandpoint), a long serving lieutenant of Cameron on JFAC has been tapped to chair the Senate Finance Committee and co-chair JFAC. Senator Dan Johnson was subsequently appointed to serve as the committee’s vice chair. Senator Johnson previously served as vice chair of the Senate Local Government and Taxation Committee. Senator Jim Guthrie (McCammon) was then tapped to serve as vice chair of the Senate Local Government and Taxation Committee. Senator Guthrie has local government experience, previously serving as a Bannock County Commissioner. As county commissioner, Guthrie served on both the Idaho Association of Counties (IAC) Board of Directors and the ICRMP Board.

In the shuffling of committee assignments, Senator Cliff Bayer (Boise) was assigned to serve on the Senate Resources Committee. While this committee may not sound like a key committee for city priorities it is the committee germane to water issues. As municipal water becomes a focal point in preserving the viability of Idaho cities and a tool in economic development this committee will become increasingly import to cities. The committee is also the venue for water quality rules and legislation to be considered.

Kelley Anthon, Rupert City Administrator, was appointed to the Idaho Senate by Governor Otter to fill the vacancy created by Dean Cameron’s departure. Kelley has been an active AIC member and plans to continue serving as Rupert City Administrator. Kelly joins Senator Lee Heider (Twin Falls), Senator Maryanne Jordan (Boise), Senator Dan Johnson (Lewiston), Senator Todd Lakey (Nampa), Representative Lance Clow (Twin Falls), and Representative Kelly Packer (McCammon) as legislators with municipal experience. Soda Springs Rancher Mark Harris has been appointed to fill the remainder of John Tippets term in the Senate.

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Updated AIC Manuals Available on Open Meetings, Public Records & Ethics

Posted By Justin Ruen, Wednesday, August 12, 2015

In the wake of recent legislation relocating the Idaho Open Meetings, Public Records and Ethics in Government laws to a new Title 74 of Idaho Code on Transparent and Ethical Government, AIC has updated its three manuals on these topics.  

The manuals are available on the AIC members only website under the Resources tab, by selecting AIC Manuals.  Links to the manuals are provided below.  You have to log in to the members only website to access them; if you don't know your log in information call the AIC office.  

Conflict of Interest and Ethics Manual for City Officials

Idaho Open Meetings Law Manual

Public Records Manual for City Officials

The Idaho Attorney General's office has also updated their manuals on Open Meetings, Public Records and Ethics in Government.  Links to the AG's manuals are provided below.

AG Idaho Ethics in Government Manual

AG Idaho Open Meeting Law Manual

AG Idaho Public Records Law Manual

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Boise Council President Maryanne Jordan Appointed to Fill Senate Vacancy

Posted By Justin Ruen, Friday, March 6, 2015

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter announced the appointment of Boise City Council President Maryanne Jordan to fill a vacant Idaho Senate seat resulting from the appointment of Sen. Elliot Werk, D-Boise, to the state Tax Commission.  

“I believe Maryanne has proven herself to be a dedicated public servant with a long track record of notable achievement and civic leadership,” said Governor Otter. “I have every confidence that she will continue that laudable legacy as the newest member of the Idaho Legislature.”

“I would like to thank Governor Otter for this appointment,” said Jordan. “Thanks also to former Senator Werk for his long and distinguished service. I am honored and humbled to serve district 17 in the Senate. Jumping in mid-session will be a steep learning curve, but I am confident that I am up to the challenge.”

Jordan has served on the Boise City Council since March 4, 2003.  She is a former President of the West Valley Neighborhood Association and spent five years on the Boise City Planning & Zoning Commission.  

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AIC-Opposed Annexation Bill Killed in House Local Govt. Committee

Posted By Justin Ruen, Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The House Local Government Committee voted this afternoon to kill an AIC-opposed bill that would restrict cities’ ability to annex. 

House Bill 127 was sponsored by Rep. Mike Moyle, R-Star and Rep. Steven Harris, R-Meridian.  The bill would have required consent from a majority of the land area and a majority of the landowners in order for a Category B annexation to occur. 

“Annexation is a good thing—it’s how cities grow and how services are provided,” Rep. Harris said.  “But let’s do it with landowner consent.  The rights of cities shouldn’t trump private property rights.”

Outstanding testimony in opposition to House Bill 127 was provided by AIC Counsel Jerry Mason and Emmett Planner Brad Clark representing the Idaho Chapter of the American Planning Association. 

“Modern communities don’t just happen by chance,” said Mason.  “They happen because they are planned.  Idaho’s Local Land Use Planning Act requires cities to plan for future development and extending services and infrastructure.  We have billions of dollars of investment in physical infrastructure that serves over 1.1 million Idahoans who live in cities.”

Mason likened Idaho’s local government structure to a “three legged stool,” with cities, counties and school districts each playing an important role at the local level.  “The beauty of this system is that it is most cost efficient for taxpayers.  Counties provide a basic level of local services: roads, law enforcement, landfills, property tax assessment, courts and jails.  Schools educate children.  And cities provide the services necessary for urban communities.  In this scheme of things, county taxpayers don’t have to pay for urban services.” 

“If those who object to annexation are able to freeze a city’s boundaries at where they are today,” Mason noted, "we have to understand that growth won’t stop.  As the area continues to grow, you’re now calling upon counties―who are already stretched to provide services with limited revenues—to provide an urban level of services and infrastructure.” 

Committee members had many questions about potential manipulation of the number of landowners, how consent would be provided by partnerships and other joint ownership situations, and the potential ability of a few property owners to frustrate a neighbor developing their property. 

Brad Clark noted that annexation has become a potent symbol in the minds of some, but urged committee members to look deeper into the rationale behind Idaho’s annexation policy.  “Cities use annexation authority responsibly and judiciously,” Clark said.

Rep. Gary Collins, R-Nampa, who was involved in an annexation task force in the early 2000s that developed the current law, said he has “been a critic of annexation and the procedures.  I still feel there are some things that could be corrected.  But I have a number of questions about this legislation.  I personally do not feel that it would be a step forward.”  Collins’ motion to hold the bill in committee was approved on an 11-1 vote, with Rep. Kathleen Sims, R-Coeur d’Alene the only “no” vote.

We extend our appreciation to all the city officials who communicated with legislators on House Bill 127.  Your grassroots engagement is a key part of AIC’s legislative success.

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SB 1093 Defeated in Senate Local Government & Taxation Committee

Posted By Justin Ruen, Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Senate Local Government & Taxation Committee voted to kill Senate Bill 1093, which would have  restricted annexations in cities under 8,000 population.  The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, asked the committee to send the bill to the amending order for changes, but committee members said that the bill was too flawed to proceed. 

AIC Counsel Jerry Mason provided very compelling testimony in opposition to Senate Bill 1093.  He described the historical foundation of local government in Idaho as a “three-legged stool,” with counties, school districts and cities each carrying out a vital mission at the local level.

“Counties provide a basic level of rural services and state-mandated functions.  School districts fulfill the educational mission.  Cities provide services and infrastructure for urban areas.  The point of all this is to avoid duplication of effort and duplication of taxation.”

“Modern communities don’t just happen by chance, they are the result of choices by local elected officials and landowners,” Mason said.  “Idaho law has for decades required cities to plan for future growth.  Another key part of that process is municipal annexation.”

Mason explained that the 2002 annexation law was the result of considerable input from stakeholders, including realtors, builders, and chambers of commerce from around the state.   The legislation made significant improvements to the annexation process, including: strengthening requirements for notice to those affected by a proposed annexation; requiring cities to prepare annexation plans outlining how services and infrastructure will be extended to the annexed area; and providing disclosure to property buyers that land is in an area of city impact or subject to a recorded consent to annexation. 

“If urbanization can happen without annexation, we’re breaking down the fabric of the system that has been in place for over 100 years,” Mason said.  “Annexation is what keeps county taxpayers from paying the costs of urban services.”

We appreciate the efforts of city officials who called or sent letters to the committee in opposition to SB 1093.

AIC submitted the attached letter to members of the committee expressing our position on the legislation.  To view the letter, click "Download File (PDF)" below. 

 

Download File (PDF)

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Greenbelt Condemnation Bill Passes Senate

Posted By Justin Ruen, Monday, February 23, 2015

Today the Idaho Senate passed Senate Bill 1044 sponsored by Sen. Jim Guthrie, R-McCammon, that would prohibit local governments from using eminent domain for greenbelts, bicycle and pedestrian facilities.  The vote was 20-13-1 (see below).  If time permits, I will have a more extensive report soon.  We extend our appreciation to all the city officials who contacted their legislators on this important issue.  The bill now heads to the House.

PASSED - 20-13-1

AYES -- Bair, Bayer, Brackett, Davis, Den Hartog, Guthrie, Hagedorn, Keough, Lee, Lodge, Martin, Mortimer, Nonini, Nuxoll, Patrick, Siddoway, Souza, Thayn, Tippets, Vick

NAYS -- Buckner-Webb, Burgoyne, Cameron, Heider, Hill, Johnson, Lacey, Lakey, McKenzie, Schmidt, Stennett, Ward-Engelking, Winder
Absent and excused -- Rice 

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Hearing on Guthrie Condemnation Bill This Afternoon

Posted By Justin Ruen, Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The hearing on the Guthrie condemnation bill will be at 3:00 p.m. today in the Senate Local Government & Taxation Committee in Room WW53 in the Garden Level (basement) of the capitol.  We appreciate those who are able to attend the hearing in person or offer testimony in opposition to the bill.  

You can listen to the committee meeting live online at the Legislature Live website.  Scroll down to Committees/Locations.

Under choose a committee or venue select "Committees."

Under choose a committee type select "Senate."

Under choose a committee select "Local Government and Taxation,"

Finally, click "Launch a media player."

AIC submitted the attached letter to members of the committee expressing our position on the legislation.  To view the letter, click "Download File (PDF)" below.

Download File (PDF)

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Hearing on Guthrie Condemnation Bill will be on Tuesday

Posted By Justin Ruen, Friday, February 13, 2015

I talked with the Secretary of the Senate Local Government & Taxation Committee this morning and confirmed that Senate Bill 1044 will be up for hearing at the committee's meeting on Tuesday, February 17 at 3:00 p.m. in Room WW53 in the basement (Garden Level) of the capitol.

We encourage city officials to attend and testify if possible.  Senate Bill 1044 is sponsored by Sen. Jim Guthrie, R-McCammon, and would prohibit local governments from condemning property for pedestrian and bicycle facilities, except associated with road projects.  AIC opposes the legislation.

There's still time to get in a letter to the committee in opposition to SB 1044.  See the previous AIC Blog Post for more information.

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AIC-Opposed Legislation Banning Condemnation for Pedestrian, Bicycle Facilities Introduced

Posted By Justin Ruen, Friday, February 6, 2015

The Senate Local Government & Taxation Committee will consider legislation to prohibit cities and other local governments from condemning property for greenbelts and other pedestrian and bicycle facilities.

Senate Bill 1044 is sponsored by Sen. Jim Guthrie, R-McCammon.  Similar legislation was narrowly defeated in the Senate Local Government & Taxation Committee in 2013, but the makeup of the committee has changed as Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, is no longer on the committee.

The legislation is in response to concerns over Bannock County residents who support the use of eminent domain to join disconnected segments of the Portneuf Greenway.  The City of Pocatello has been clear and consistent in refusing to pursue eminent domain and continues to work toward negotiated agreements with the property owners.

In the 2013 hearing on the bill, Sen. Guthrie characterized bicycle and pedestrian facilities as nice recreational amenities that are not in the same category of essential transportation infrastructure as roads.

City officials are normally reluctant to use eminent domain, and have rarely condemned property for pedestrian and bicycle facilities. 

Boise used condemnation once in the early stages of developing the Boise River Greenbelt, which proved essential in bringing that tremendous community asset to fruition. 

The only other example that AIC can find involves Garden City, where a homeowner’s association requested the city to condemn property needed for a greenbelt bridge across the Boise River as a way of avoiding restrictive covenants placed on disposal of commonly owned property. 

The City of Eagle filed a condemnation action in April 2014 over a path next to the Laguna Point subdivision, but settled with the property owners and the action never went to court. 

Many city officials who are working to build multi-modal transportation networks would dispute the characterization of pedestrian and bicycle facilities as nice, but not as essential as streets.  These are the routes that children take to school, that allow people to access jobs and shopping, and provide recreational opportunities and access to rivers for many Idahoans.   

The Boise Greenbelt is conservatively estimated to carry 65,000 trips per year.  Greenbelts are key to Idaho’s economic vitality, and are amenities that help attract businesses, visitors and new residents to our communities.  Given the rarity with which condemnation has been used for pedestrian and bicycle facilities, we should trust local officials who are elected and accountable to their constituents to act in the best interests of their communities.

We urge city officials to contact members of the Senate Local Government & Taxation Committee to respectfully express your opposition to SB 1044.  The members of the committee are listed below.

Chair: Sen. Jeff Siddoway, Terreton  --  jsiddoway@senate.idaho.gov

Vice Chair: Sen. Dan Johnson, Lewiston  --  djohnson@senate.idaho.gov

                  Sen. Curt McKenzie, Nampa  --  cmckenzie@senate.idaho.gov

                  Sen. Jim Rice, Caldwell  --  jrice@senate.idaho.gov

                  Sen. Steve Vick, Dalton Gardens  --  sjvick@senate.idaho.gov

                  Sen. Clifford Bayer, Boise  --  cbayer@senate.idaho.gov

                  Sen. Jim Guthrie, McCammon  --  jguthrie@senate.idaho.gov

                  Sen. Elliot Werk, Boise  --  ewerk@senate.idaho.gov

                  Sen. Grant Burgoyne, Boise  --  gburgoyne@senate.idaho.gov

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