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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 

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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2019 City Election Calendar Available

Posted By Justin Ruen, Friday, August 31, 2018
The 2019 General City Election Calendar is now available and can be downloaded by clicking the link at the bottom of this post.  The calendar includes deadlines for passing an ordinance to change elected official salaries, candidate filing, publishing the notice of candidate filing deadline, write-in filing, and candidate withdrawal.  For any questions on city elections, don't hesitate to call the AIC office at (208) 344-8594 or email Justin Ruen at jruen@idahocities.org

 Attached Files:

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Process for Submitting AIC Member Initiated Legislative Proposals

Posted By Justin Ruen, Friday, August 31, 2018

AIC has a process for members to submit legislative proposals for consideration as AIC priority legislation. Members can submit proposals to AIC staff at any time; however, in order to prepare for the upcoming session, the Bylaws do contain a deadline of October 15. This post is to serve as a resource for those interested in submitting legislative proposals to AIC for possible inclusion in the AIC priority legislative package. Please feel free to contact Jess Harrison (jharrison@idahocities.org) or Justin Ruen (jruen@idahocities.org) with any questions.

The process for submitting member initiated legislative proposals, as well as basic FAQs are outlined below. 

Who can propose AIC sponsored priority legislation?

Proposals for AIC sponsored priority legislation may be brought forward by any of the following association members and groups:

·       AIC Board of Directors,

·       AIC Legislative Committee,

·       AIC Committees, or

·       Elected Officials from One or More Member City.

The Bylaws also allow AIC staff to bring legislative proposals to the Board of Directors at any time. 

When is the deadline to submit a proposal for AIC sponsored priority legislation for consideration?

All policy proposals must be submitted to AIC staff by the close of business on Monday, October 15 in order to be considered as part of the AIC Priority Legislative Package. Please submit all legislative proposals via email to Jess Harrison (jharrison@idahocities.org) or Justin Ruen (jruen@idahocities.org).  

What information must be included with member submitted proposals for AIC sponsored priority legislation?

Legislative proposals submitted to AIC for consideration by an approved sponsor must include the following information:

·       The sponsor (either the name, title, and city of the sponsor or the name of the AIC committee)

·       A brief summary of the proposed legislation in sufficient detail to evaluate the proposal

·       A simple statement of the fiscal impact of the proposed legislation on the state and local governments

·       Draft legislative language

Will AIC staff review membership submitted proposals for AIC sponsored priority legislation?

The Bylaws require association staff to prepare a staff report to assist the Board of Directors in reviewing priority legislation. The staff report will include the following items:

·       A list of Idaho statutes affected by the proposed legislation,

·       A list of city departments and city officials affected by the proposed legislation,

·       A list of legislative stakeholders both likely to support and likely to oppose the proposed legislation,

·       A statement of the reasons to support the proposed legislation,

·       A statement of the reasons not to support the legislation, including unintended consequences,

·       A brief fiscal analysis of the proposed legislation, and

·       An analysis of the political feasibility of the proposed legislation (likelihood of passage).

Who will review membership submitted proposals for AIC sponsored priority legislation?

The Board of Directors is authorized by the Bylaws to review and evaluate all legislative proposals submitted by the membership for consideration.

When will the Board of Directors meet to review membership submitted proposals for AIC sponsored priority legislation?

The Board of Directors will meet November 29 to consider member submitted legislative proposals.

How will the Board of Directors review membership submitted proposals for AIC sponsored priority legislation?

The Bylaws require the Board of Directors to take the following information into consideration when reviewing legislative proposals:

·       The proposed legislation should affect more than one member city,

·       The proposed legislation should benefit more than one member city,

·       The proposed legislation should be within the general realm and scope of city government, and

·       The proposed legislation should be politically feasible.

What is the voting threshold for the Board of Directors to adopt membership submitted proposals for AIC sponsored priority legislation?

The Bylaws require an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the Board of Directors in order to support member initiated legislative proposals.

Why is the approval threshold so high?

Having a two-thirds threshold ensures that only near consensus legislation is advanced, thus preventing major divisions within the membership.

For how long is legislation adopted by the Board of Directors the policy position of the association?

Member initiated priority legislation adopted by the Board of Directors will remain the policy position of the association for one year; however, nothing will preclude unsuccessful legislation from being reconsidered in subsequent years.

When will the membership have the opportunity to review AIC sponsored priority legislation adopted by the Board of Directors?

Association membership will have an opportunity to review and comment on AIC sponsored priority legislation at the fall Legislative Committee meeting, scheduled for Friday, November 30 in Boise. Members will also have the opportunity to review AIC sponsored priority legislation during the AIC Legislative Committee meeting held in conjunction with the AIC City Officials Day at the Capitol in late January.

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Flags to be at Half-Staff until Sunset on Sunday, Sept. 2

Posted By Justin Ruen, Monday, August 27, 2018

Flags to be at half-staff until sunset on Sunday, Sept. 2

Presidential Proclamation on the Death of Senator John Sidney McCain III
Issued on: August 27, 2018

As a mark of respect for the memory and longstanding service of Senator John Sidney McCain III, I hereby order, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, on the day of interment.  I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half‑staff for the same period at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-seventh day of August, in the year of our Lord two thousand eighteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-third.

DONALD J. TRUMP

https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/presidential-proclamation-death-senator-john-sidney-mccain-iii/

 

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Newly Revised AIC Open Meetings Law Manual Available

Posted By Justin Ruen, Monday, August 27, 2018

The AIC Open Meetings Law Manual has been recently revised and may be downloaded by clicking the link at the bottom of this post.  

The manual was updated to reflect the passage of House Bill 611 by the 2018 Idaho Legislature, which requires that:     

Meeting notices and agendas must be posted electronically if the government entity has a website or social media presence, in addition to physical posting at the office of the government entity;

Action items must be identified as such on the meeting agenda, but designating an agenda item as an action item does not require the governing board to take action on that item; and 

Final action cannot be taken on an agenda item added to the agenda after the start of the meeting unless in an emergency situation with a declaration and justification recorded in the minutes.

The manual also includes a "Steps for Entering Executive Session" document on the last page that is designed to be used by the City Council during meetings.

 Attached Files:

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Register Today for FEMA Training Sept. 11-13

Posted By Justin Ruen, Friday, August 24, 2018

FEMA Region X is pleased to announce an offering of the L0426 Building a Roadmap to Resilience: A Whole Community Training course, taking place on September 11-13, 2018 in Salem, OR. For additional details, please review the flier which is linked at the bottom of this post, which includes more information and application procedures.

Course Description: This interactive course focuses on implementing inclusive emergency management principles in local communities, and how that approach can increase a community’s ability to mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from a disaster. This course will provide tools to help community groups move beyond basic awareness and into engaging activities that truly move the needle on resiliency. Students are expected to be active participants in this course to enhance their level of knowledge. As a course outcome, students will develop a roadmap to resiliency customized for their community, to include proven best practices for engagement and tested preparedness activities.

Target Audience: This course is intended for community stakeholders interested in disaster resilience, as well as junior emergency management professionals who support or implement inclusive emergency management, community disaster planning, preparedness activities, and community outreach at the state and local levels. For the purposes of this course, junior emergency management professionals are considered those with less than three years of experience.

For more information and instructions on how to apply, please contact course coordinator Ilyssa Plumer at ilyssa.plumer@associates.fema.dhs.gov

Download File (PDF)

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National League of Cities Announces Commitment to Enhance Cities' Use of Data and Evidence

Posted By Justin Ruen, Thursday, August 23, 2018

The National League of Cities (NLC), the nation's largest and most representative organization for cities and their elected leaders, today announced that its members will have access to a first-of-its-kind workshop series through NLC University on foundational data practices that build effective local governments. The workshops will be offered through a new partnership with Results for America (RFA) that helps cities use data and facts to tackle their most pressing challenges and improve residents' lives.

 

"Last year, What Works Cities set a new standard of excellence in data-driven governance with the introduction of Certification," said Clarence E. Anthony, CEO and executive director of the National League of Cities (NLC). "NLC is proud to partner with Results for America to bring these best practices to our membership and help them reach that bar. Together, we can drive better outcomes that have the power to improve the lives of millions of our cities' residents."

 

The NLC-RFA partnership will include programming at the 2018 City Summit in Los Angeles, other events throughout the year, and the 2019 Congressional City Conference in Washington, DC. NLC University will offer five courses to help cities build their skills in leading data and evidence practices and to advance in the What Works Cities Certification program. Members can view and enroll in the courses here.

 

"Leaders set the agenda for progress in their cities," said Simone Brody, Executive Director of What Works Cities. "Data and evidence best practices help cities clearly define problems and develop impactful solutions so that leaders can solve problems and effectively run cities. We're excited to partner with NLC to help leaders build the skills needed to fully embrace data-driven governance and make the journey from commitment to results."

 

What Works Cities is one of the largest-ever philanthropic efforts to enhance cities' use of data and evidence. What Works Cities Certification is the first-of-its-kind national standard of excellence in city governance that evaluates how well cities are managed and whether cities have the right people, processes, and policies in place to put data and evidence at the center of decision-making. Nine cities have been recognized as leaders in this field and awarded Certification.

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Idaho Energized - Energy Innovation & A Case for Energy Codes

Posted By Johanna M. Bell, Friday, August 10, 2018
Updated: Thursday, August 9, 2018

The June 2018 AIC Annual Conference packed in an "Energy Track," among our other informative general sessions and workshops.  For those interested in taking a longer, second, or first look at some of the resources provided - READ ON!

Idaho Energized - Thursday, June 21st General Breakfast Session

Energy is the oxygen of our economy! Technological advances are happening everywhere – whether it is solar, wind, bio-mass, energy efficiency, electric vehicles or battery storage. This session featured interactive questions posed to a panel of energy experts about reliably and responsibly powering our future. The interactive portion was riveting! We are looking forward to hosting more of these in the future!

Panelists included:

Author and Energy Policy Expert S. David Freeman

Steve Burgos, City of Boise Public Works Director

Adam Richins, Idaho Power Executive Vice President

 

Resilient Idaho - A Case for Energy Codes

Energy codes lock into place energy efficiency and community resilience practices - most of which are already common within the building construction industry due to ongoing technology improvements and customer expectations. Attendees heard about what energy codes are, what projects they apply to, and how the adoption of the Idaho energy code supports Idaho’s economic health. 

Plus, a one-page fact sheet touting the benefits from energy efficient building codes was included in all Annual Conference attendee packets!

Presenters included:

Sharon Grant, Eco Edge

Jerry Peterson, the Idaho Division of Building Safety

David Freelove, Brit/Makela Group

 

Stop Flushing your City’s Money Down the Drain

Over the last five years, Idaho Power has sponsored strategic energy management efficiency programs for municipal water and wastewater systems. Chellie Jensen of Idaho Power discussed how several cities have succeeded in achieving cost savings through operational improvements, as well as how they are striving to make sure new infrastructure is obtained with energy efficiency in mind.

 

Electric Vehicle Charging & Fleets

From Teslas to trucks and fleets, electric vehicles (EVs) can be found along many Idaho roads. EVs are expected to comprise over 50% of new car sales by 2040. This workshop provided an overview of electric vehicles, how to charge them and emerging trends. Also, attendees learned how utilities, cities, and developers are preparing for this exciting new technology and what funding opportunities for infrastructure are on the horizon.

Presenters included:

Haley Falconer, City of Boise

Billie McWinn, Idaho Power

Katie Pegan, Idaho Office of Energy & Mineral Resources

 

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Reducing Community Risk from Asbestos Exposure

Posted By Johanna M. Bell, Thursday, August 9, 2018
Updated: Thursday, August 9, 2018

The use of asbestos, a mineral fiber occurring in rock and soil, in building insulation was once commonplace in countries around the world, until the health risks as one of the most dangerous carcinogens ever used by the construction industry became widely known.   Exposure to asbestos has been linked to a number of serious and fatal diseases, including mesothelioma (a cancer affecting the lining of the lungs and the lining of the lower digestive tract), asbestos-related lung cancer, and asbestosis (a condition resulting in scarring of the lungs).

The use of asbestos has been banned in most countries for the past 40 years, with the United States as one of the few developed nations in the world that has opted to put restrictions on the substance rather than ban its use entirely.  Thirty-one countries, including Australia, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Israel and Japan, PLUS the European Union have completely banned asbestos use.

Asbestos Risks from Water and Wastewater Operations

Asbestos cement was once used to construct thousands of miles of Idaho’s water pipelines. With a recommended usable lifespan of 50-70 years, these pipes are often utilized well past their prime, which may cause them to deteriorate and release high levels of asbestos fibers.  

While the risks from asbestos are most clearly linked to airborne exposure, the use of asbestos in water and wastewater pipes makes issues of asbestos exposure of keen interest to Idaho cities and residents.  Beyond the known risks from airborne exposure, new studies also reveal risks associated with drinking water exposure.

Upgrading aging water mains that contain asbestos may cause microscopic asbestos fibers to be released into the air. Once inhaled, asbestos fibers may remain in the body for many years, prompting to irritation that may result in diseases like asbestosis, lung cancer, and various strains of mesothelioma cancer. While pipeline maintenance workers are primarily affected, this can also spread asbestos into the environment and surrounding communities, putting anyone at risk for exposure. It’s important that any renovation efforts be handled with care, including using particulate masks, protective outerwear, and following Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) asbestos guidelines. 

An Idaho example of these risks and liabilities of hazardous asbestos exposure can be seen in a 2013 case against Boise’s Owyhee Construction Inc. The construction company won a bid to renovate the water system in Orofino, Idaho, which included asbestos-cement or transite pipes. Upon review, Owyhee’s workers were considered ill equipped to encounter and work with asbestos, and their project was deemed an environmental health hazard.

Evolving Asbestos Use Controls and Regulations in the United States

The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was first passed by Congress in 1976 to help keep dangerous chemicals off the market and avoid making people sick.  In a 2016 bipartisan compromise, Congress moved to patch up the holes in our chemical review system when it updated the Toxic Substances Control Act.  It was apparent to many members of Congress at the time that additional authorities to protect the public were needed. For example, the EPA attempted to ban the use of asbestos in 1989, but a federal court ruled that it lacked the authority to do so.   

EPA’s new significant new use rule (SNUR) proposed on June 1, 2018 broadens EPA’s restrictions on asbestos products. EPA is proposing to ensure that manufacture, import, or processing for the currently unregulated new uses identified in the SNUR are prohibited unless reviewed by EPA. EPA’s proposed new review process empowers EPA to act, including prohibiting or limiting its intended use. 

The EPA is also looking at developing alternative work practices (AWPs) that will utilize new technology for safe removal and replacement of asbestos-cement pipelines.  EPA’s proposed AWP seeks to reduce the risk of exposure and is comparable to existing techniques under the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) that require no visible dust.  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also has jurisdiction over exposures to asbestos in the workplace.  OSHA uses a numerical standard of 0.1 fiber/cc.  Public comments concerning pipe removal practice were sought by June 25 this year, with a final update expected sometime in the future.

Water Quality and Asbestos in Idaho

The Department of Environmental Quality is in charge of regulating water supplies on a state level. Under the Environmental Protection Agency’s Safe Drinking Water Act, the Idaho DEQ must manage the quality of water being sourced to prevent asbestos levels from exceeding 7 MCL. This includes the 1,960 water systems throughout the state. At a national level, the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund are maintained to improve water quality and infrastructure as needed. Each level of government works in tandem to provide resources for clean water initiatives. 

Idaho Cities: Asset Management Programs for Municipal Utilities

Water pipe maintenance and replacement through a sustainable Asset Management Plan is of the utmost importance as we preserve our access to potable and surface water resources. This responsibility falls on many shoulders, including all levels of government, distributors, and our fellow community members that pay for, and benefit from, Idaho’s clean water supplies. Through careful renovation and a move toward sustainable infrastructure, municipal governments can contribute to cleaner water and a healthier environment.

There are many helpful benefits from an effective asset management system to local governments:

  • Provide local residents with improved services based on municipal asset use (such as infrastructure, water systems, parking, etc.)
  • Increase revenues
  • Improve the overall credit rating for the Municipal Government
  • Attract more domestic and foreign investors
  • Improve land valuation (for example, through relocation of public properties, sale and leases, and improvements in infrastructure such as better roads) that make land assets attractive for productive and real estate purposes.
  • Enhance the environment and improve quality of life (for example through public parks and greenways)


An effective asset management system can provide useful information to managers of the
city government as well as other stakeholders, about the actual and potential net worth
and asset base of a city. Additional resources can be found HERE. 

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Keeping Idaho Cities Safe During a Prolonged Fire Season

Posted By Johanna M. Bell, Thursday, August 9, 2018
Updated: Thursday, August 9, 2018

Extreme heat bakes out the moisture absorbed by forests and sagelands during the winter and spring months.  The heat we experience in Idaho leads to drier fuels, which explains why the likelihood and severity of fire increase exponentially for every additional degree of temperature. Today, western fire seasons are 78 days longer than in the 1970s. 

Keeping Idaho cities safe during our summer and fall fire seasons takes planning - and action - to assemble resources and implement the best practices available.

This important public health and safety topic was the focus of the June 2018 AIC Environment Committee meeting, co-scheduled with the AIC Annual Conference.

Presentations by Boise City Fire Department's Wildland Mitigation Specialist Jerry McAdams and Brett Van Paepeghem with Firewise provided important resources as our Idaho cities look into making our communities "fire adapted."

Fire is a natural part of our environment.  As we choose to live in areas where wildfires occur, we must adapt the way we design, build, and live within these areas, and to prepare our communities for wildfire.  A "fire adapted community" is one that understands its risks and takes actions that minimize harm to residents, homes, businesses, parks, and other community assets.

Actions Idaho cities can take to create "fire adapted" communities include:

  • Identify the "Wildland/Urban Interface" within your community;
  • Adopt new construction ordinances that address issues such as "home hardening," "defensible space," and "fire-resistant landscaping;"
  • Work with your Idaho County partners to develop "Wildfire Safety Plans"
  • Adopt "Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&R) Maintenance Requirements" to maintain vegetative clearances; and,
  • Establish a "Municipal Wildfire Mitigation Team" with Fire, Parks, Planning, and Public Works staff that can develop and implement the Plan (i.e., inventory existing conditions, seek out funding sources, build external collaborative partnerships, etc.).

 

 

 

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