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Top tags: City Officials' Day at the Capitol 

2015 Post-Election Wrap-Up

Posted By Justin Ruen, Thursday, November 5, 2015

Several cities had bond, levy and other questions on the ballot for the November 3, 2015 election.  We will briefly cover the results of these ballot measures.

·         Voters in McCall approved local option taxes to fund maintenance of city streets and sidewalks.  The proposal includes a 1 percent local option sales tax (which excludes groceries and car sales) and a 3 percent local option lodging tax.  The annual revenue expected to be generated from the taxes is $800,000, and the taxes will be in effect for 10 years. 


·         McCall voters narrowly defeated a citizen initiative seeking to phase in increases in the minimum wage.  The proposal would have increased the minimum wage to $8.75 per hour effective January 1, 2016 and to $10.25 per hour effective January 1, 2017.  This was one of the most closely watched ballot measures in the state. 


·         Sandpoint voters approved a 1 percent local option sales tax for five years to fund a $2.7 million project to construct new grandstands at Barlow Stadium at War Memorial Field, home of The Festival at Sandpoint. 


·         Stanley voters reauthorized the city’s local option sales tax at 2.5 percent.  The tax generates approximately $200,000 a year and is dedicated for city facilities and streets, public safety services, capital improvements, and matching funds for grants.


·         Voters in Melba approved allowing sale of liquor by the drink in the city.  Currently, bars are only able to sell beer and wine.  The measure only needed a simple majority to pass and received 56 percent of the vote.


·         A $2.2 million sewer bond passed in Notus with 73 percent support.  The project will replace portions of the city’s collection system and complete lagoon improvements, preparing the city to meet future discharge permit requirements.


·         A citizen initiative in Salmon seeking to ban the use of city property for a whitewater park was soundly defeated.  A group of residents has proposed such a park for kayakers and river surfers on the Salmon River west of downtown.  Proponents say the whitewater park will attract tourists and strengthen the local economy, as well as provide enhanced recreational opportunities for residents.   


·         A proposal to increase the City of Blackfoot’s electrical franchise fee from 1 to 3 percent was defeated.  The revenue would have been dedicated to needed street maintenance in the city.


·         Voters in Lava Hot Springs overwhelmingly reauthorized the city’s local option taxes.  The city levies a 3 percent tax on lodging, a 2 percent tax on alcohol by the drink, and a 2 percent tax on retail sales (excluding groceries, building materials and motor vehicles).  A separate proposal to dedicate some of the revenue for a new city hall narrowly failed to get the required 60 percent approval.  The city receives approximately $225,000 in local option tax revenue annually.


·         A proposed $23 million bond to fund construction of a wastewater treatment plant was defeated in Kimberly.  Currently, Kimberly relies on Twin Falls to treat its wastewater and it was hoped that constructing the city’s own facility would help in attracting new businesses and growth. 


·         City of Boise voters overwhelmingly passed a two-year override levy to provide $10 million for protection and preservation of open space, recreational access and habitat protection in the Foothills and the Boise River.


·         Voters in the City of Pierce approved a proposed $2.1 million revenue bond for wastewater treatment facilities.


·         Voters in the City of Weippe approved issuing $1.6 million in revenue bonds for improvements to the city’s sewer system and treatment facility. 


·         The City of Priest River passed a sewer revenue bond for $3.3 million of improvements to the city’s collection system and treatment facilities. 


·         Citizens in Rigby voted to keep in place a city ordinance banning Sunday sales of liquor by the drink. 


·         Voters in the city of Hazelton narrowly rejected a proposed ordinance allowing residents to own up to six chickens.  


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AIC Policy Process for Member Initiated Legislative Proposals

Posted By Seth Grigg, Thursday, September 10, 2015

Recent amendments to the AIC Bylaws establish a clear process for members to submit legislative proposals and for the Board of Directors to review and adopt member submitted policy proposals. The changes are intended to allow for a more inclusive and transparent policy development process. The process is as follows:

Who can propose AIC sponsored priority legislation?

Proposals for AIC sponsored priority legislation may be brought forward by any of the following association members of 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 October 15th in order to be consider as part of the AIC Priority Legislative Package. Please submit all legislative proposals via email to Seth Grigg ( You can also contact Seth via phone at (208) 344-8594 questions.


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 and 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 must meet by the second Friday in November 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 voter threshold so high?

Having a two-thirds voter threshold will ensure 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, generally held the first week in December. 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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August State General Fund Revenue Collections Outpace Projections

Posted By Seth Grigg, Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Idaho Division of Financial Management recently released its August State General Fund Report highlighting that state general fund revenues continue to outpace projections. Through August, state revenues came in 1.4% above projections and 6.3% above FY2015 levels for the same period. These strong numbers indicate growth in economic activity for the state. Most importantly for cities, strong sales tax revenue growth is driving the overall growth in Idaho’s tax revenues. To date, FY2016 state sales tax revenues have outpaced projections by 3.9% and are up 9.1% when compared to FY2015. Continued strong sales tax collections should result in higher than projected state sales tax revenue sharing distributions to cities. More importantly, strong state sales tax collections show steady improvement in Idaho’s economy. The full report can be viewed here.

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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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