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Top tags: City Officials' Day at the Capitol 

Five Lessons from NLC’s First Housing Task Force Meeting

Posted By Justin Ruen, Friday, January 25, 2019

When NLC launched our Task Force on Housing last year, we envisioned not only addressing the national housing crisis, thereby ensuring everyone had a physical structure in which to live, but also uncovering how to make these places home for the many thousands of Americans that are without one.

This week, we had our first task force convening, and spoke with mayors, city councilmembers and experts who are on the ground, working tirelessly to address these issues. It was an eye-opening meeting, and we touched on an array of topics, challenges and possible solutions. There were several themes that were especially resonant.

Below are five of the lessons we learned from the event:

1. It’s not (just) about the money: Or, more aptly, there are many things cities can do that don’t cost money. One of the major recommendations that came up time and time again during the meeting — and that became one of the five task force priorities — was addressing policy barriers around land use. Up-zoning and reducing the number of hurdles to expanding use of community land trusts are all effective ways that cities can promote housing equity and affordability.

2. Take a holistic view of housing: One of the five chosen priorities was regional and holistic planning. Over the course of the meeting, it became clear that it would be impossible to address housing needs without thinking about tangential issues like job growth, health outcomes and mobility. It makes sense: When we choose a place to live, we aren’t just thinking about the physical structure;we’re also considering how far it is from our jobs, whether the commute to work is reasonable with the available transit options and how living there will impact our health (is it close to grocery stores? A park?). Mass transit, job availability, broadband and local amenities are all an integral part of any holistic housing policy plan.

3. Government shutdowns ravage HUD and, by extension, the people who depend on it: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and local housing agencies need funding and access to data, both of which are unavailable when the government shuts down. From December 22, when the partial federal government shutdown began,through January 21, nearly 360,000 people in 125,000 households across the country were at risk because their housing assistance had been delayed, according to an NLC analysis of U.S. HUD data. That included almost 6,000 households in participating cities. And unfortunately, even when the government does open back up, we’ll never get back those lost days.

4. Local demographic profiles will shift over the next 30-50 years: These shifts matter because they’ll affect demand. For instance, a younger population typically translates into a decreased a desire for home ownership, and the need for more multi-family buildings. Meanwhile, seniors will typically gravitate towards smaller dwellings with more aging-friendly amenities. Cities that don’t take this forward-thinking approach risk a future of unsold homes or not having an insufficient housing supply.

5. No “solution” will be one-size-fits-all: We heard from local leaders across the country, from cities big and small, and it became clear that yes, the housing crisis is national in scale, but it’s very localized. For some cities, strategies like up-zoning will make the biggest difference. For others, the greatest hurdle is infrastructure, and ensuring that housing serves the needs of residents. Still other cities would benefit tremendously from more federal aid. Ultimately, with strong local leaders at the helm, we will solve this problem someday — and each of these leaders will play different roles, choosing the priorities that’ll best serve their individual communities.

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NLC: It’s Earned Income Tax Credit Awareness Day! Are Your Eligible Residents Claiming the EITC?

Posted By Justin Ruen, Friday, January 25, 2019

It’s EITC  (Earned Income Tax Credit) Awareness Day, giving city officials the chance to help their residents get the tax refund   they deserve.

Families across the country are working hard all year to pay their rent, keep the heat on and put food on the table. One of the best tools helping working families keep their household budgets on track is the EITC.

But, roughly 20 percent of eligible taxpayers don’t claim the EITC when they file their taxes.

This means they are leaving hard-earned money on the table and out of the local economy.

That’s a shame, because each year, the EITC provides a much-needed income boost to millions of low- and moderate-income families.

Last year, the EITC provided roughly $63 billion to 25 million eligible workers and families with an average payment of $2,488.

This tax season, families with two children who earned less than $45,802 (or less than $51,492 for married workers) are eligible for a credit of up to $5,716.

That is a significant amount for low-wage workers who are struggling to pay bills or provide for their families. It also injects federal dollars into neighborhoods and local economies.

Today offers an opportunity for elected officials, local governments, community organizations, schools, employers and other partners to come together to increase awareness of the EITC and other refundable tax credits that are available for eligible low- and moderate-income families.

It also offers city leaders the opportunity to connect with, celebrate and encourage residents to access the EITC through free tax filing services via the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.

Altoona, Pennsylvania Mayor Matthew Pacifico see this as important effort on behalf of his constituents.

“We have to make sure every Altoona resident has the tools needed to move out of poverty and increase financial stability,” Mayor Pacifico said. “The EITC is a proven way to get money into the pockets of families. I am proud to help our residents learn about the EITC and connect them with VITA partners who will help them claim the tax credits.”

For more than 18 years, the National League of Cities’ Institute for Youth, Education, and Families (YEF Institute) has helped cities in implement EITC outreach campaigns.

These campaigns have raised the visibility of refundable tax credits like the EITC, and increased the participation of low- and moderate-income residents in free tax preparation through the VITA program.

As noted above, many families do not realize they are eligible to receive this refund. This potentially leaves hundreds or thousands of dollars on the table, which, if claimed by families could inject millions of dollars into local economies.

The combination of the EITC and savings generated by utilizing the VITA program’s free tax preparation services offer residents the best opportunity for financial success.

On average, families can save more than $200 dollars by having their taxes completed at a VITA site. These are real savings that will help increase the financial stability of families.

How Cities Can Help

The City of Dayton, Ohio, has a devoted staff person, as well as resource web pages to educate residents about the EITC.

The resource pages include income limits and credit amounts, tax filing information, and opportunities for residents to volunteer. The city highlights community events and lists VITA sites where residents can receive free tax preparation services, and which documents and materials they need to utilize the free tax services through VITA.

Dayton also created a form that residents can complete to become a VITA volunteer. After receiving the form, the city provides the required IRS training to volunteers and places the volunteers in local VITA sites.

In Altoona, Mayor Pacifico shares information about the EITC with residents through his monthly update newsletter. The update has included information on what the EITC is, how much the credit is worth to working families and the best way to find a VITA site within the city.

The Cities of Dayton and Altoona are both working to make sure that their residents know about and access the EITC. Both examples offer practical steps that other city leaders could take to help their residents and communities capture these resources.

To access the YEF Institute’s EITC Awareness Day toolkit, please click here.

To download NLC’s extensive Toolkit on Maximizing the Earned Income Tax Credit, click here.

For more information about EITC Awareness Day and EITC outreach campaigns, contact Patrick Hain at (202) 626-3099 or hain@nlc.org.

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Third Annual AIC Water Summit - Presentations

Posted By Johanna M. Bell, Friday, January 25, 2019

AIC would like to thank our community partners and members that provided their time and resources to make this year's Summit a great success!

Toxic Criteria Rulemaking Update: Arsenic (Jason Pappani, DEQ; & Tom Dupuis, HDR)

Ammonia Criteria 101 – An Orientation on the History, Issues, Future Efforts & Options (Kate Harris, Boise; Dave Clark, HDR)

Eastern Snake River Plain Term Sheet Agreement Update (Chris Bromley, Bromley McHugh)

IDWR Updates: (Mat Weaver, IDWR)

Stormwater Permits in Idaho – Right-Sizing with a “Maximum Extent Practicable” Analysis (Tom Dupuis, HDR; Johanna Bell, AIC)

AIC Fall 2018 Water Academies – Report Back (Johanna Bell, AIC; Adrianna Hummer, IRWA)

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Water Infrastructure Improvement Act - Signed January 14, 2019!

Posted By Johanna M. Bell, Monday, January 21, 2019

Legislation Provides Important New Environmental Flexibilities and Programs for Clean Water

Since 2012, EPA’s Integrated Planning (IP) Framework has been an important tool that has provided public clean water utilities and the communities they serve the opportunity to develop integrated management plans to better sequence and prioritize their specific Clean Water Act (CWA) obligations and investments.  Allowing communities to have better control over how they meet their permit obligations based on specific local infrastructure and environmental factors, as well as the needs of their ratepayers, is critical.  Codifying the IP Framework gives public utilities greater long-term certainty to provide communities of all sizes with safe, reliable, and more affordable clean water. 

One key provision adopted into the CWA is that permits may include a schedule of compliance that allows actions for meeting water quality-based effluent limitations to be implemented over more than one permit term if the compliance schedules are authorized by state water quality standards (e.g., Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs)).

The bill also establishes an office of Municipal Ombudsman within the EPA to provide municipalities with technical assistance to comply with CWA obligations, as well as ensure Agency policies are being implemented properly at the local level.  Many communities, especially small and rural communities, often have insufficient technical capacity and expertise to manage the increasingly complex regulatory nature of the compliance obligations before them. This new office will serve as an important conduit between the Agency and local governments to ensure technical support is being provided at the local level to navigate these statutory requirements, and ensure compliance to avoid unnecessary violations.

Lastly, the bill also includes provisions to ensure that EPA integrates the use of green infrastructure throughout its CWA compliance programs.  As communities continue dealing with aging infrastructure and increasing water quality challenges, green infrastructure can provide a cost-effective, environmentally friendly tool to help better manage wastewater and stormwater.

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2019 Idaho Legislative Session is Off and Running

Posted By Justin Ruen, Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The 2019 legislative session started last week with Governor Brad Little’s State of the State address and committees are considering state agency rules and starting to introduce bills. 

We anticipate that this session will be very busy from the perspective of Idaho cities.  The best ways to keep up with these developments are monitoring the AIC blog, the AIC Bill Tracker with up-to-date status of the bills we are tracking, and the AIC Bill Summaries.

AIC will be sending out requests during the session asking city officials to contact their legislators to support or oppose bills, so it is very important to reach out to your legislators and know how to get in contact with them. 

AIC’s success in advocating for cities depends on the active grassroots engagement of city officials around the state and your efforts are greatly appreciated!

 

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Register Today for AIC City Officials’ Day at the Capitol and Water Summit!

Posted By Justin Ruen, Friday, January 11, 2019

There is still time to register for AIC City Officials’ Day at the Capitol on January 24 and the AIC Water Summit on January 23.

City Officials’ Day at the Capitol is a great opportunity to learn about important policy issues facing the Idaho Legislature and discuss these issues with legislators.  The agenda can be downloaded from the AIC website

The day will start at 9:00 a.m. Mountain Time in the Lincoln Auditorium of the Idaho Capitol Building with a legislative leadership panel featuring Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill, Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett, Speaker of the House Scott Bedke, and House Minority Leader Mat Erpelding.  The morning will also include discussion of policy hot topics, including liquor licensing reform, elections and campaign finance, and conclude with a panel on local government and tax issues including AIC Executive Director Jess Harrison, Idaho School Boards Association Executive Director Karen Echeverria, and Idaho Association of Counties Executive Director Seth Grigg.

City officials will have time to meet their legislators when the House and Senate adjourn shortly before Noon and escort them to lunch at the Boise Centre EAST Building Room 400 AB.  It’s a very short walk or a shuttle bus will be available.   

In the afternoon, the meetings will continue in Boise Centre EAST Building Room 400 AB, with the AIC Drug Task Force from 1:30 to 2:00 p.m., and District Regional Roundtables and a Resort Cities Caucus starting at 2:00 p.m.  City officials will also have the opportunity to watch legislative committee meetings in the Garden Level of the Capitol, check out the Capitol and its many informative historical exhibits, or schedule meetings with legislators or state agency staff.

We ask that you please contact your local legislators to invite them to lunch and make arrangements to escort them and sit with them during lunch.  Seating for the luncheon will be color-coded by district and seating maps will be available.

The AIC Water Summit is being held the afternoon prior to City Officials’ Day at the Capitol.  It will start at 1:00 p.m. Mountain Time in the North Star Room of the Riverside Hotel in Garden City.  The agenda includes updates on the Idaho Pollutant Discharge Elimination System program, toxics rulemaking on arsenic, a discussion of the ammonia criteria, a report on the Eastern Snake River Plain Term Sheet Agreement, updates from the Idaho Department of Water Resources, a discussion of stormwater permits in Idaho, and a report back from the AIC Fall 2018 Water Academies.  The afternoon will conclude with regional breakout sessions for electing regional representatives to the AIC Municipal Water Users Forum and discussion of local issues and hot topics.  

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PLEASE NOTE: Harris CPAs Webinar on Grants Management RESCHEDULED for January 23

Posted By Justin Ruen, Monday, January 7, 2019

The free webinar hosted by Harris CPAs in Boise on grants management that was happening Wednesday, January 9 has been rescheduled to 11:45 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, January 23 at the Harris CPAs Center of Influence at 805 West Idaho Street, Suite 400 in Boise.  

If you have already registered, there is no need to re-register. 

If you have any questions, please contact Tara Davis at Harris CPAs at: taradavis@harriscpas.com or (208) 333-8965.

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Idaho Supreme Court’s Recent Ruling in Hayden Sewer Capitalization Fee Case is Good for Cities

Posted By Justin Ruen, Friday, January 4, 2019

A decision by the Idaho Supreme Court last week in a case challenging the City of Hayden’s sewer capitalization fee is positive from the perspective of cities. 

The case, North Idaho Building Contractors Association v. City of Hayden, has been winding its way through the courts since 2010 and alleges that the city’s sewer capitalization fee is an illegal tax.  AIC has been closely monitoring the case and filed an amicus brief with the Idaho Supreme Court supporting Hayden’s arguments, which was drafted by our legal counsel Jerry Mason and Nancy Stricklin.

The Idaho Supreme Court’s ruling remanded the case back to District Judge Cynthia K.C. Meyer and upheld the city’s right to present evidence showing that the city’s fee complies with the methodology set forth in Loomis v. Hailey (1991). 

“In Loomis v. Hailey, this Court interpreted section 50-1030(f) to authorize a city to charge a new, one-time connection ‘buy-in’ fee to the sewer and water system that can exceed the actual cost of physically connecting,” the Supreme Court noted in their decision.  “Indeed, this Court held that the buy-in fee could be used to ‘recover the costs of operating, maintaining, replacing, and depreciating the existing water and sewer systems and any extensions thereof.’”

“The correct amount is to be calculated ‘by dividing the net system replacement value by the number of users the system can support.  The new user is charged the value of that portion of the system capacity that the new user will utilize at that point in time.”

Hayden commissioned a study by Financial Consulting Services (FCS) that was previously excluded from consideration by District Judge Meyer showing that the city’s fee complied with the Loomis methodology. 

“The City’s evidence… established that the City can make a case that the 2007 Cap Fee was reasonable when it was adopted, even though the method used to arrive at the amount of the fee was flawed.  In addition, as the City notes, the purpose and intent of the increased fee was not to generate revenue for the City; the fee was collected and placed in a special fund, designated for sewer system obligations.”

The Supreme Court remanded the case back to the District Court with instructions to consider the FCS study and other evidence to determine whether the Hayden capitalization fee complies with Idaho law.  It’s not clear at this point how long that process will take.   

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Register Today for 2019 AIC City Officials’ Day at the Capitol!

Posted By Justin Ruen, Friday, December 28, 2018

We look forward to seeing you in Boise for the 2019 AIC City Officials’ Day at the Capitol on Thursday, January 24, 2019.  You can register via the AIC website and the cost is $49 per person.  Lodging and other information is available on the AIC websiteThe day’s agenda is also provided on the AIC website.

City Officials’ Day at the Capitol provides a great opportunity to get up to speed on important policy issues impacting cities that will be considered by the Idaho Legislature in the upcoming session and to discuss these issues with legislators.

The day will start at 9:00 a.m. Mountain Time in the Lincoln Auditorium of the Idaho Capitol Building with a legislative leadership panel and policy briefings.  You will be able to escort your legislators to lunch at Noon at the Boise Centre East Building in Rooms 400 A & B.  It’s a very short walk or a shuttle bus will be available.    

In the afternoon, the meetings will continue in Boise Centre East Building Rooms 400 A & B, with the AIC Drug Task Force from 1:30 to 2:00 p.m., and District Regional Roundtables and a Resort Cities Caucus starting at 2:00 p.m.  City officials will also have the opportunity to watch legislative committee meetings in the Garden Level of the Capitol, check out the Capitol and its many informative historical exhibits, or schedule meetings with legislators or state agency staff.

We ask that you please contact your local legislators to invite them to lunch and make arrangements to escort them and sit with them during lunch.

 

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The More You Know: A Message from AIC Drug Task Force Chair Mayor Tammy de Weerd of Meridian

Posted By Justin Ruen, Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The AIC Drug Task Force met recently as part of their regular conference call and felt it was important to bring the following information to all cities. During the conversation there was a discussion about what are important questions for elected officials to ask their police department or law enforcement partner related to issues involving drugs.  These conversations are critical to narrowing our activities to what issues are of highest priority for elected officials.

What we realized is that as elected officials we need to ask the right questions of our law enforcement representatives. In order to start the conversation – whether you are new to the job or just need a reminder – we put together a list of questions that we hope will encourage a discussion with your police chief, or sheriff and lead to a conversation regarding the drug issue in your community.

We anticipate each of these questions will likely lead to more questions, but wanted to give you a head start:

General

·         What are we doing to address drugs in our community?

·         What type of drugs are we seeing and how do we know?

·         What is the age range of those caught with drugs?

·         How would you describe the drug problem in our schools?

·         What type of drug crimes are you seeing in the community?

·         What is our involvement in drug abuse education in the community such as DARE?

·         What is the stance of the Chief’s/Sheriff’s Association regarding efforts to legalize cannabinoid oil (CBD) and recreational marijuana and what is the Department doing to advance that position, if anything?

·         What can I as an elected official do to help the department proactively reduce substance abuse in our community?

Opioids

·         Do we have an opioid epidemic in our community?

·         How many opioid deaths have we had in our community?

·         Do we have a take back program for drugs?

·         What happens to the drugs we confiscate?

·         How are confiscated drugs disposed?

If you found those questions helpful, or if you want to get involved in the task force, I wanted to invite you to join us.  The Task Force will hold a panel discussion as part of AIC City Officials' Day at the Capitol on January 24 from 1:30 to 2:00 pm. We’d love to have you join us for this opportunity to learn more about the issues we are facing as cities in Idaho and how you can do your part to keep Idaho drug free. To help you understand why all this matters, here is link to a documentary called Chronic State. Please try and watch the video prior to attending the panel discussion. The documentary can be viewed on You Tube (36min) or Vimeo (56min).

Mission Statement:

The AIC Drug Task Force is the combined effort of cities to keep our communities safe from drugs and to minimalize the impacts to the children and families of Idaho. Our focus is to educate AIC members and state officials on pressing issues influenced by drugs, share best practices in order to successfully help other communities face drug-related challenges, promote community coalitions as a strategy to engage the community in solutions, encourage diversion programs, and support drug-free workplace policies in the private and public sector. 

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