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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 

Lead in Public School Drinking Water - Federal and State Support is Available NOW!

Posted By Johanna M. Bell, Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Free Testing for Lead in Drinking Water at Public Schools - Act Now!

The Idaho Bureau of Laboratories is currently providing free testing of lead in drinking water sources from Idaho’s public schools. This free analysis is available until May 29, 2020. Private schools and daycares are not eligible for this program. The Idaho Bureau of Laboratories has information related to school lead testing, including a sample container request form and testing request form available HERE; under the School Lead Testing tab.  Questions regarding free testing can be directed to Earnest Bader at (208) 334-0590 or at


Background - Lead is Harmful to Humans, Especially Children

Lead is not typically a contaminant coming from water in a well, spring, or surface water source. Lead can enter drinking water from a building’s plumbing system. It may be present in various parts of the plumbing system including lead solder, brass fixtures, water fountains, and lead or galvanized pipes. When water is left in the pipes and in contact with lead plumbing materials, lead may leach into the water. The amount of lead in drinking water depends on how corrosive the water is, the materials used to construct the plumbing fixtures, and how long the water has been in contact with lead in the pipes or fixtures. The longer water stands in the plumbing system, the more lead the water can absorb from lead based plumbing fixtures and components. Lead can be present in school drinking water where water often remains stagnant in plumbing—overnight, over a weekend, or during a vacation. Buildings and plumbing fixtures built prior to 1986 are primary sources of lead in drinking water, though even new plumbing fixtures may leach lead into the drinking water.


The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality has multiple resources related to lead in school drinking water. Additionally, the Environmental Protection Agency has a toolkit related to the reduction of lead in drinking water. Questions regarding lead in drinking water can be directed to Tyler Fortunati at (208) 373-0140 or at


AIC Members Must Play a Key Role: Funding for Mitigation of Lead in Public School Drinking Water

DEQ’s State Revolving Fund has $500,000 of drinking water grant funds set aside annually for public water systems to replace piping and fixtures that are contributing to lead contamination.  The funding MUST be coordinated through the public water system serving the school.


Additionally, DEQ’s wastewater State Revolving Fund program can potentially fund upgrades to old, lead fixtures and piping, when the public water system serving the school is unable to support a drinking water funded effort.  Contact Tim Wendland at (208) 373-0439 or at with your questions.

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Updates from U.S. Department of Labor & IRS

Posted By Justin Ruen, Wednesday, December 18, 2019

New Rules from U.S. Department of Labor

The U.S. Department of Labor recently finalized its new rule under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) which determines whether an employee qualifies as exempt from overtime pay. All employees covered by FLSA who are not exempt must be paid time and one-half their regular pay rate for all hours worked over forty in a workweek. In order to be exempt, employees must be paid at least the "standard salary level" and pass the duties test. The new rule increases the salary threshold from $23,660 annually ($455 per week) to $35,568 annually ($684 per week). Employers may use certain nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) to satisfy up to 10% of the salary level. This applies to all employees who fall under the executive, administrative and professional categories. The duties tests to determine whether or not an employee should be included in one of these categories have not changed. In addition, in order to be exempt as “highly compensated,” employees must earn $107,432 annually (previously $100,000).

The U.S. Department of Labor also finalized a rule defining what perks and benefits employers should exclude when determining the regular rate of pay for employees covered by FLSA. Examples include parking benefits, wellness programs, certain tuition benefits, payments for unused paid leave, business expense reimbursement for items such as cellphone plans, the cost of office coffee & snacks, and discretionary bonuses.

The new rules go into effect January 1, 2020.

New IRS W-4 Form

The IRS has revised the W-4 form to reflect tax code changes from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The 2020 Form W-4 no longer includes withholding allowances which were tied to personal exemptions because they are no longer in use.

The new form is required to be used by all employees hired on or after January 1, 2020. Current employees are not required to complete the new form, but will need to use it if they make any adjustments after January 1, 2020.

A new Publication 15-T, Federal Income Tax Withholding Methods, is scheduled to be released soon for use with the 2020 Form W-4. It will include steps to determine withholding under the Percentage and Wage Bracket Methods using both the 2020 Form W-4 and prior years’ versions. More information can be found here.


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Register Today for AIC City Officials’ Day at the Capitol

Posted By Justin Ruen, Wednesday, December 18, 2019

City officials have a great opportunity to learn about policy issues impacting cities and to interact with their local legislators at the upcoming AIC City Officials’ Day at the Capitol on January 23, 2020 in Boise.  You can register today via the AIC website.

The day will start at 9:00 a.m. in the Lincoln Auditorium in the Garden Level (Basement) of the Capitol building with a legislative briefing.  The meeting will break at 11:30 a.m. to allow city officials to meet their legislators as they come off the floor and escort them to lunch.  A shuttle to the luncheon will be provided.

One of the major changes for 2020 City Officials’ Day is that the legislative luncheon will be held on the second floor of the Grove Hotel, not at the Boise Centre where we have been in years past. 

The afternoon is unprogrammed, giving city officials the opportunity to tour the Capitol on their own, watch committee hearings in the Garden Level of the Capitol, or schedule their own meetings with legislators or state agency staff.

AIC will be sending invitations to legislators when the Legislature convenes.  We ask that city officials reach out to their local legislators to invite them to lunch.  This gives you the opportunity to discuss whether you will meet them at the Capitol or at the luncheon and other logistical matters, helping to ensure a successful lunch.

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Regional AIC Academies Attract Outstanding Turnout

Posted By Justin Ruen, Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Over 460 new and veteran city officials joined us for the 2019 regional AIC Academies, held in six locations in December.  The Academies provided excellent training on roles and responsibilities, basics of open meetings, managing personnel in the public sector, ethics in government, local government purchasing fundamentals, understanding public records, and planning and zoning.

You can find pictures from the Academies at AIC's recently reactivated Facebook page.

During the lunch hour, city officials heard updates on a variety of legislative issues likely to surface in the 2020 legislative session.

Thanks for making this year’s Academies a success!

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Keeping Your City's Underground Utilities Safe

Posted By Johanna M. Bell, Tuesday, December 17, 2019

AIC members serve many vital roles in our local communities across Idaho.  One key role relates to public safety and protection of underground facilities during contractor excavations near municipal and private utilities located in public rights-of-ways.


On July 15th, 2019, a contractor arrives at the jobsite at a home in residential suburb on a sunny morning. His day should be an easy one, a simple job. He proceeds with his excavation activities and stops when he thinks he may have hit something. Looking at the site, he does not see any obvious large breaks or cracks in an underground pipeline that was just barely scraped, so he commences with his work. By the end of the day one person will be dead and fifteen more injured in Murrieta, California

Why did this happen? The contractor failed to call the State’s Dig Line “811” number to obtain the underground natural gas line location data prior to excavation.

Idaho’s Dig Line Program and Damage Prevention Control Program

While Dig Laws vary slightly from state to state, the basics of safe digging are the same throughout not only the U.S., but internationally in the U.K., Australia, Canada, Japan, China, India and more. In Idaho, utilities with underground infrastructure are required to provide FREE line locating services.  By being a member of the Idaho Dig Line program and adopting effective Right-of-Way Encroachment Ordinances, AIC member cities with underground utilities can work collaboratively with their excavation contractors to keep community members and underground facilities safe. 

Breaking It Down: What are underground utilities?

Underground utilities include power, water, sewer, stormwater, telecommunications, propane, natural gas, cable, phone, internet, and any other facility that is buried or placed beneath the ground.

What are the Excavator’s responsibilities?

The State of Idaho requires that any work involving excavation involve placing a call to the free 811 service to identify and locate underground facilities in the area. Excavation is considered any action that involves disturbing, moving, and/or digging in the earth- regardless of the job size. Replacing a fence post, landscaping activities, paving a driveway, building a home, repairing a sewer line are all examples of appropriate times to call 811.  What if an Excavator is not sure if they need to call? That’s ok, the good folks at the free 811 service will let them know if the job falls under the requirements or not.

What are the underground facility owners’ responsibilities?

Underground facility owners also have a duty to comply with Idaho’s Dig Laws.  Current Idaho Dig Laws state that any owner of an underground facility MUST be a member of the 811-call service in their area.  These include AIC member cities.

Note: In Idaho that includes Digline in most counties, and Password in the northern part of the state. Participation ensures that underground facilities are located and protected from harm during an excavation.

Have AIC members always been required to participate?

Cities, jurisdictions, water and sewer districts are also required to participate in the Damage Prevention Program. This has become increasingly important since enacting changes to the location of service laterals went into effect in July of 2019. This new requirement states that any service lateral located in a public right of way or underground facility easement that is used to convey water, sewer, or stormwater and connects an end user’s building or property to an underground facility owner’s main utility line must be located.

What can my city do next?

Follow the Damage Prevention Checklist below, as well as the Steps to Safe Digging, to help to ensure your community’s public health and welfare are safeguarded.  These efforts not only help your city to comply with Dig Law but also ensure the water services to your community are uninterrupted, while also making sure the assets of your underground facilities are protected.


Damage Prevention Checklist:

1.      Make sure your city is a member of an 811 service

a.      Digline:

b.      Password (Kootenai, Bonner, Boundary, Shoshone, and Benewah):

2.      Develop and adopt a Right-of-Way Encroachment Ordinance and Permit that outlines when and how your local excavators are to obtain the required municipal permits prior to excavate in or around underground facilities.

3.      Develop and update your underground utility maps, including the laterals through the right of way in a private property line.

a.      If in Digline service area, contact them about software to assist in this process and training on how to upload to the Digline system.

4.      Be aware of the current Damage Prevention Laws and how they may apply to you.

a.      Damage Prevention Dig Guide Laws.

5.      Request a free training and education class to get up to date on the Damage Prevention Board activities, rules, complaint process and more.


Steps to Safe Digging:

1.      PRE-MARK your area with white paint. This will show locators where you plan to be working

2.      CALL 811: Free service that will generate request ticket for facility owners to come out and locate

3.      WAIT 2 full business days for locates to be completed

a. AFTER 2 full business days, you can put in another locate request if no markings have been completed

1.      MAINTAIN the marks. It is up to you to make sure the marks stay visible and intact in the manner in which they were originally marked

2.      HAND DIG within 24 inches of an underground facility

3.      UPDATE: Call for an updated locate after 21 days of the first locate request for the length of your project.


For more information, contact Jamie Buckingham, Idaho Damage Prevention Program Specialist at or call 208-332-7140.



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2019 AIC Academies for Newly Elected Officials: Podcasts and Webinars for Elected Officials with Water and Water Treatment Utilities

Posted By Johanna M. Bell, Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The Association of Idaho Cities' Municipal Water Users Group members are please to provide you with the following list of recommended podcasts for elected officials (and staff) with water and water treatment utilities.

Sustainable Business Planning and Funding: The Water Values - September 3, 2019

National Association of Clean Water Agencies: Understanding Resilience, from Concept to Implementation Strategy

National Association of Clean Water Agencies: Resilience & Smart Communities

Emerging Contaminants - PFAS/PFOAs

International Perspectives from Politico - “Global Translations” (trade, technological disruption, & climate change): 

Planet Money, The Pigou Club (putting a price on externalities)

More Resources - 



Water Treatment Utility Evaluation and Resources

Staff Contact: Johanna Bell, Policy Analyst, Environment;

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Voting for New Energy Codes Is Underway — Has Your City Voted?

Posted By Johanna M. Bell, Tuesday, December 3, 2019

After months of preparation and public hearings, the final decision on proposals included in the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) is in the hands of validated Governmental Members of the International Code Council. This voting pool is comprised of staff from local government organizations, including building officials, elected officials, sustainability directors, and others.

Online voting is currently underway, and will close on Friday, December 6th. Has your city voted? 

Updated every three years, the IECC sets minimum energy efficiency standards for commercial and residential buildings. Most cities adopt the IECC as their minimum code, making it is one of the most important tools jurisdictions have for improving the energy performance of their buildings and reducing carbon emissions resulting from the built environment. While every building is different, a building typically lasts 50 to 100 years, meaning that the decisions we make today about how we design and construct our buildings will have long-standing impacts. 

Are you a registered Governmental Member Registered Voter? Be sure to vote by Friday, December 6th at 11:59 PM Pacific Time. 

Not a registered Governmental Member Registered Voter? Reach out to your local city council, mayor or city manager to find out if your city has cast its votes for energy efficiency. 
For more information, check out some of these resources to assist:

Voters Guide 

Why Vote

How to Vote

Learn More


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Register Now for the AIC Fourth Annual Water Summit: January 22, 2020

Posted By Johanna M. Bell, Wednesday, November 20, 2019

AIC is pleased to announce that registration is now open for the 4th Annual Water Summit (HERE)!

This year's Summit will focus on current and emerging hot topic water policy issues affecting cities including, but not limited to: water rights, water quality, and stormwater. This meeting is being held in downtown Boise to make travel easy on all of AIC’s members, including those that plan to attend the City Officials' Day at the Capital on January 23rd. 

Important Note:

Two key components of the 2020 Summit will be (1) the selection of new regional representatives to serve on the AIC Municipal Water Users Group oversight board, and (2) the identification of key regional water issues with strategic coalition opportunities and partners.



To help our members identify and better understand some of the key regional water issues, AIC is hosting a series of four free 1-hour regional water webinars for our members.  Plan to attend YOUR region's webinar to hear about current and emerging water issues impacting our Idaho cities!  


  • AIC Districts #1 & #2: 12/6/2019 @ 9:30/10:30 AM (pac/mnt; North and North-Central Idaho)
  • AIC Districts #3 & #3a: 12/13/2019 @ 9:30/10:30 AM (pac/mnt; Southwest Idaho)
  • AIC District #4: 12/16/2019 @ 9:30/10:30 AM (pac/mnt; South-Central Idaho)
  • AIC Districts #5 & #6: 12/17/2019 @ 1:30/2:30 PM (pac/mnt; Eastern and South-Eastern Idaho)

Each of these have been scheduled to follow the regional Fall Academy in your region. Invitations will be emailed or please contact Payton Grover at to make sure you are on the invitation distribution list.


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Property Tax Working Group Holds Second Meeting

Posted By Justin Ruen, Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The legislative working group considering potential reforms to Idaho’s property tax system met this week and heard from a variety of perspectives. 

You can access the presentations for the meeting at this link by scrolling down to the November 18 meeting. 

The working group heard from Keith Bybee of the Idaho Legislative Services Office, who summarized the results of a recent survey on budgets and services of the 30 largest cities in Idaho.  We greatly appreciate the work of these cities in responding to the survey.  For these cities, property taxes made up 57% of their general fund revenues. 

In his remarks to the working group, Bybee said that at least half of the responses indicated that cities were saving for infrastructure projects like streets, new police or fire stations, etc. 

Seth Grigg, Executive Director of the Idaho Association of Counties, said that counties would like a stronger partnership with the state in helping to fund state mandates that are implemented at the county level. 

“If you take a look at some of these service areas, like public defense, is there a way to help counties so that property taxpayers don’t have to pick up the tab?”  Grigg suggested the state providing resources to help counties, similar to the dedicated revenue counties receive to pay for running local elections.

The working group also heard from Clearwater County Sheriff Chris Goetz, Twin Falls County Commissioner Don Hall, Bingham County Commissioner Jessica Lewis, Bannock County Commissioner Terrel Tovey, and Ada County Clerk Phil McGrane. 

The county officials gave example after example of counties working hard to provide state mandated services, but struggling with the limited revenues they have to do the job. 

Sheriff Goetz reported that Clearwater County just did a major road striping project, but was only able to afford painting the fog lines.  “There are no center lines, because there was no money to do that.”

Mark Mitton, City Administrator for Burley, urged the working group to keep in mind the needs of rural communities that have real challenges providing services.  “I don’t think we can address this issue with a blanket statewide approach.  Things work differently in rural areas, they have a smaller property tax base.  Local elected officials in these communities work hard to try to keep taxes low.  I would be concerned about any legislation that would hurt rural areas.”

Rep. Mike Moyle, R-Star, continued to advocate for restrictions in levies for new construction, arguing that real tax relief could only be achieved with cuts to local government budgets.

Sen. Kelly Anthon, R-Burley, the Senate co-chair, said, “One of the things that has become very clear to me is the diversity of the state with regard to property taxes. … It’s going to be a real challenge to do something that will work for everybody.”

The working group will have at least one more meeting prior to the legislative session, but the meeting date has not been set.


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AIC Regional Academies Coming in December!

Posted By Justin Ruen, Friday, November 15, 2019

With the city candidate election over, it is a good time to remind folks about the upcoming AIC Regional Academies that will be held in December in six locations around the state.

You can register for the Academies via the AIC website.

These daylong workshops will provide excellent training for new and veteran city elected officials and staff on:

  • Roles & Responsibilities
  • Basics of Open Meetings
  • Personnel Management Fundamentals
  • Ethical Leadership
  • Liability Protection
  • Legislative Hot Topics, and much more!

The Academies are a great way for newly elected mayors and councilors to get up to speed on the most important issues that city officials face, helping them to understand where they fit in the puzzle of city government, and how to avoid potentially serious pitfalls.

AIC will not be having a standalone Fall/Winter Legislative Committee meeting this year (as we normally have in Boise), so the legislative issues discussion will be incorporated as part of the Academies agenda. 

The Academies will run from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and will be held at the following locations.  We hope you can join us!



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