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Top tags: City Officials' Day at the Capitol 

Community Connect Broadband Grants Available from USDA Rural Development

Posted By Justin Ruen, Thursday, March 15, 2018

USDA Rural Development is offering broadband grants in their Community Connect Grant Program and cities have until May 14, 2018 to complete the application.  

The grant can be used to fund construction, acquisition or leasing of facilities, land or buildings used to deploy broadband service.  

You can find more information including the application at the USDA Community Connect Grant website.  

Webinars will be announced soon, so check back regularly online for scheduling.

You can click on the links below for the Fact Sheet and Notice of Solicitation of Applications.

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Register Today for Spring District Workshops in Late April & Early May

Posted By Justin Ruen, Monday, March 12, 2018

We hope you can join us for the regional spring district workshops that will be held in six locations around the state in late April and early May.  You can register via the AIC website.

The Spring District Workshops will include training on:

·         New laws passed by the 2018 Idaho Legislature and an update on legislative issues of importance to cities.

·         Basics of the city budgeting process and understanding major city revenue sources.

·         Personnel management for city officials.

·         Planning and zoning fundamentals and tips for more effective public hearings.

·         Selection of District Directors for the AIC Board of Directors.

 

The dates and locations of the Spring District Workshops are below.

Monday, April 23:             Chubbuck at Idaho Central Credit Union

Tuesday, April 24:            Idaho Falls at Hilton Garden Inn

Wednesday, April 25:       Burley at Best Western Burley Inn

Thursday, April 26:           Nampa at Nampa Civic Center

Tuesday, May 1:              Moscow at Best Western Plus University Inn

Wednesday, May 2:         Coeur d’Alene at Best Western Plus CDA Inn

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Revenue Sharing Legislation Introduced to Spark Discussion Among Cities Over the Interim

Posted By Justin Ruen, Monday, March 12, 2018

The House Revenue & Taxation Committee introduced a proposal last week that would make dramatic changes to the revenue sharing distribution formula for cities and counties, however, the sponsor has pledged that the bill will not advance this session. 

House Bill 664, sponsored by Rep. Jason Monks, R-Nampa, was introduced to spark discussion concerning the revenue sharing formula over the interim and AIC will create a work group to look at the issue and see if changes should be made.

There are currently two revenue sharing formulas for cities and counties.  The oldest dates to the early 1970s shortly after the State of Idaho passed the sales tax into law.  The Idaho Legislature repealed the property tax on business inventory that was in effect at that time, which levied taxes on cars in dealers’ lots, cans on grocery store shelves, and livestock owned by ranchers.  Starting a precedent that has been followed to this day, the Legislature dedicated a portion of state sales tax revenue to offset the revenue losses to local governments resulting from a property tax exemption.  The replacement amounts were based on the taxable business inventory that the city or county had at that time.  We call this formula the County Distribution, Business Inventory Replacement, or Base and Excess Distribution.

Fast forward to the late 1990s and there were concerns among rapidly growing cities that the Business Inventory Replacement formula was out of date and needed to be reexamined.  An interim committee looked at the issue in 1998 and reform legislation passed in 2000 that changed the Business Inventory Replacement formula.  Each city’s quarterly replacement revenue was capped at the fourth quarter 1999 amount and allowed to grow up to 5% (this amount was called the base), and excess revenue above this amount was directed into a new distribution allocated on a population basis (hence the name Base and Excess).

The other revenue sharing formula is called the State Distribution and dates to the mid-1980s.  In 1978, Idaho voters overwhelmingly passed the 1% Initiative, a statewide property tax limitation ballot measure modeled after Proposition 13 in California.  The initiative was so flawed that the Idaho Legislature couldn’t implement it, but what followed was several years of local government budget freezes in the late 1970s and early 1980s.  Local governments were also hit hard at this time by the loss of the federal Revenue Sharing program that allocated money to local governments with relatively few strings attached.  The Idaho Legislature understood the dire fiscal straits that cities and counties were in and came to the rescue by creating a new revenue sharing formula from state sales tax revenue.  The cities’ revenue was allocated based on population (50%) and market value (50%).

Recently there has been discussion among some cities that the base of the Business Inventory Replacement formula should be reallocated on a population basis, but there are also concerns about ensuring that such changes do not negatively impact cities that rely on those revenues for their operating budgets.

Rep. Monks has tried to balance those concerns with the distribution formula in House Bill 664, which would establish an average per capita dollar amount for city revenue sharing including both the County and State Distribution formulas, which is now $72.01 per capita.  Cities that receive more than the city per capita average would have their distributions frozen until they fell sufficiently to reach the average level.  Cities that are below the city per capita average would get the new revenue in future years to bring them up to that level. 

The cities that would be most impacted by the Monks proposal are:

(1)    Resort, recreation or lakeside cities that have high market values relative to their population: Dover, East Hope, Hayden Lake, Island Park, Ketchum, McCall, Sun Valley, and Warm River.

(2)    Cities that have a very high base under the County Distribution: Elk River, Kellogg, and Wallace.

(3)    Cities with a combination of (1) and (2): Stanley.

In the most extreme cases, cities could potentially have their revenue frozen for 20 or 30 years, although the Monks bill would ensure that they would continue receiving their “floor” amount for as long as it took for the city’s per capita amount to drop to the city average.  You can review the summary of the current per capita amounts for cities by clicking the link below this post. 

AIC has committed to form a work group to study the issue and determine if changes should be made to the revenue sharing formula.  We welcome any feedback you have on the current distribution formula or the proposal in House Bill 664; you can email Justin Ruen at jruen@idahocities.org and Jess Harrison at jharrison@idahocities.org 

 

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FY 19 City Budget Calendar Completed

Posted By Justin Ruen, Thursday, March 8, 2018

The FY 2019 City Budget Calendar has been completed and may be downloaded in PDF or Word versions by clicking the links at the bottom of this post.

AIC is working hard to get the FY 2019 City Budget Manual completed and we hope that it will be ready next month.  We appreciate your patience!

 

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Legislative Alert: Please Contact Senators and Ask for their Support of the Magistrate Court Funding Bill—HB 643

Posted By Justin Ruen, Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Legislation co-sponsored by the Association of Idaho Cities (AIC) and the Idaho Association of Counties to provide sustainable funding for magistrate courts passed the House by a vote of 53-17-0 yesterday.  We extend our sincere appreciation to the many city officials who called and emailed legislators in support of the bill.  Your efforts were instrumental in helping to pass this legislation through the House.

House Bill 643 now heads to the Senate Judiciary & Rules Committee, where it could be heard later this week.

We ask city officials to please contact their local Senators and respectfully ask for their support of House Bill 643.

House Bill 643 is the product of a work group including city and county elected officials, as well as representatives from Idaho’s court system that met over the interim to try to find a consensus legislative solution to Idaho’s court funding challenges.

Idaho has a unified state judiciary: all judges are state employees, but the counties are responsible for providing facilities, staffing and equipment for the District and Magistrate Courts. 

The courts are currently facing a funding crisis as revenue from misdemeanor and infraction citations has declined substantially in recent years.  Many counties are at the state law levy caps for their Justice and District Court Funds and are unable to raise additional revenue through property taxes.  Counties are also facing very costly public defense reforms that will require additional funding to ensure indigent criminal defendants are afforded a legal defense that meets the requirements of the state and federal constitutions.

Cities are part of the court funding deliberations because of Idaho Code 1-2218, which provides:

“Any city in the state shall, upon order of a majority of the district judges in the judicial district, provide suitable and adequate quarters for a magistrate’s division of the district court, including the facilities and equipment necessary to make the space provided functional for its intended use, and shall provide for the staff personnel, supplies, and other expenses of the magistrate’s division.”

This law provides broad authority for judges to determine that a city will be liable for providing court facilities, equipment and staffing.  Currently, several cities voluntarily agree to provide financial support for magistrate courts in lieu of providing facilities, equipment and staffing as required by Idaho Code 1-2218.  The City of Meridian is currently in litigation with Ada County over requirements that the city provide court facilities and given the scope of the court funding challenges it seems likely that more cities would face such demands in the future.

After considering a wide range of options, the work group decided to support a proposal dedicating a portion of future revenue growth from the State Liquor Fund to provide additional court funding.  Liquor revenue has a clear nexus to courts and is a revenue source that has grown consistently.  That would satisfy the need for court funding and allow for the repeal of Idaho Code 1-2218. 

The legislation contains the following provisions:

·         Each city would forego 3.66% increments of growth in State Liquor Fund revenues for the five years of implementation.  Each county would forego 2% increments of growth in the State Liquor Fund.  State Liquor Fund revenues typically grow between 5-6% a year.

·         The State of Idaho would divert $6 of court fees from the state general fund to magistrate courts.  There is an additional $1 fee diversion to the Peace Officers Standards & Training (POST) to hold them harmless. 

·         Prevents any new cities from being ordered to provide magistrate court facilities or funding upon enactment.

·         Phases out current city magistrate court funding obligations over a five-year period beginning in fiscal year 2019 and ending in fiscal year 2023.

·         Funds will be distributed to counties through a formula with a base amount for every county and the remainder distributed by a combination of population and caseloads of municipal misdemeanor and infraction charges.

·         Funds will be deposited into a newly created county magistrate court fund to ensure funds are dedicated to magistrate court operations.

·         Fully repeals Idaho Code 1-2218 on July 1, 2023.

HB 643 will benefit cities by repealing Idaho Code 1-2218 and providing certainty about cities’ financial obligations for magistrate court funding. 

The bill will benefit counties and the courts by providing sustainable funding for our court system.

The bill also reflects the fact that the State of Idaho has an important stake in the magistrate court system.  The Idaho State Police issue misdemeanor and infraction citations that create workload for the magistrate courts.  It is also important to recognize that most city and county citations are enforcing state laws, not local ordinances, and that the State of Idaho benefits from these enforcement efforts.

For these reasons, the Association of Idaho Cities and the Idaho Association of Counties strongly support House Bill 643 and we respectfully ask legislators to support this important bill.

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Resolution Rejecting DEQ Backflow Device Testing Rules Killed in House Environment Committee

Posted By Justin Ruen, Tuesday, March 6, 2018

AIC-opposed legislation that would have rejected rules of the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality concerning testing of backflow prevention devices was killed in the House Environment, Energy & Technology Committee last week.

AIC extends its appreciation to the city officials who contacted legislators and asked that they oppose House Concurrent Resolution 35

There is another backflow prevention resolution that would reject rules of the Idaho Plumbing Code—House Concurrent Resolution 37—which is currently awaiting hearing in the House Business Committee.  It is not clear if this resolution will advance this session.

Supporters of the resolution argued that annual testing for backflow prevention devices seemed to be overkill and that it would be better for cities and counties to develop their own regulations.

Proponents of the current backflow testing regime noted that such regulations have been in place for decades and have been repeatedly approved by the Idaho Legislature.

Outstanding testimony was provided by Mayor Darin Taylor of Middleton, Emmett Public Works Superintendent Bruce Evans, and Twin Falls Water Superintendent Rob Bohling.

“The single most important thing we do as cities is provide safe, clean drinking water,” Mayor Taylor said in his remarks to the committee.

“There will be costs if we don’t have a state backflow testing program,” said Bruce Evans, testifying on behalf of the City of Emmett and the Idaho Rural Water Association.   “We will have increased water sampling costs, and higher costs for continuous disinfection.  Each city would have to develop, adopt and implement its own backflow testing program, which would add to the unnecessary costs,” Evans said. 

Two committee members—Rep. Don Cheatham of Post Falls and Rep.  Jeff Thompson of Idaho Falls—had compelling personal stories about being sick after drinking contaminated water.  “I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy,” said Cheatham.

A motion by Rep. Cheatham to kill the resolution passed by a vote of 10-6-2.  

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Magistrate Court Funding Bill Passes House by Wide Margin

Posted By Justin Ruen, Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Legislation co-sponsored by the Association of Idaho Cities (AIC) and the Idaho Association of Counties to provide sustainable funding for magistrate courts passed the House by a vote of 53-17-0 this afternoon.

House Bill 643 now heads to the Senate Judiciary & Rules Committee, where it could be heard later this week. 

AIC extends its appreciation to the many city officials who contacted House members in support of House Bill 643.  Your involvement truly makes a difference.  

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Watch Floor Debate on Magistrate Court Funding Bill

Posted By Justin Ruen, Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The landmark AIC sponsored magistrate court funding bill--House Bill 643--will be up for floor debate in the House this morning, which goes on the floor at 10:00 a.m. Mountain Time.

You can watch the debate live on the Idaho Public Television Legislature Live website by clicking the play button on the House video screen.  If you use Google Chrome as your browser, you will need to click the "Try the Chrome/iOS device stream" link at the top of the screen once it brings up the House Chambers screen.  The Legislature Live website works best using Internet Explorer.

 

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Legislative Alert: HB 547 Passed House Floor – Please Contact Senate Commerce & Human Resources Committee to Oppose the Bill

Posted By Johanna M. Bell, Friday, March 2, 2018

House Bill 547, the AIC-opposed legislation on building codes, passed the House floor and is now headed to the Senate Commerce & Human Resources Committee.  We ask city officials to reach out by phone or email to members of the committee and respectfully ask them to oppose the bill (see members and contact information below).   

Talking Points Against HB 547 and Regarding State Building Code Adoption

  1. In general, code amendments made by local governments provide additional flexibility and relief for builders.
  2. Preserving local governments’ ability to amend the state adopted code is important for building safety.
  3. HB 547 creates considerable uncertainty by restricting local amendments to addressing immediate threats to life or safety.  The bill does not provide any examples or make any attempt to clarify what is meant by an immediate threat to life or safety.
  4. HB 547 adds and removes language in a manner that has unintended consequences.  The bill fails to adequately distinguish between residential building and energy codes versus commercial building and energy codes. 
    First, the added language prohibits any changes to the International Residential Code (IRC) and International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) unless adopted by the state, as the bill’s sponsor Rep. Joe Palmer has presented. Then, HB 547 deletes an entire section (i.e., Section 4) that allows local governments to “amend by ordinance the adopted codes or provisions of referenced codes to reflect local concerns, provided such amendments establish at least an equivalent level of protection to that of the adopted building code.” By removing this section in its entirety, HB 547 removes the ability of local governments to amend ANY codes, including commercial building codes.
  5. Changes made to the International Residential Building Code and the International Energy Conservation Code since 2012 provide MORE options to comply via performance versus prescription - thus increasing compliance flexibility for builders and potentially decreasing home buyer costs.
  6. Failing to adopt the residential energy efficiency code is anti-consumer protection.  When purchasing a new home, buyers naturally assume that they are acquiring a house that is constructed according to current code.
  7. The incremental cost of building a more energy efficient home does not “price people out of home ownership” but high building material costs do.  The leading reason for foreclosure, after loss of income, is the inability to pay energy bills.  That is why low-income housing advocates are vocal supporters of stronger energy efficient codes since energy is the highest cost of home maintenance – higher than taxes and insurance.

The members of the Senate Commerce & Human Resources Committee are listed below with their phone numbers and email addresses.

Sen. Jim L. Patrick, Twin Falls, Chair:   (208) 332-1318     jpatrick@senate.idaho.gov

Sen. Jim Guthrie, Inkom, Vice Chair:   (208) 332-1348    jguthrie@senate.idaho.gov

Sen. Fred S. Martin, Boise:    (208) 332-1407    fmartin@senate.idaho.gov

Sen. Todd M. Lakey, Nampa:    (208) 332-1328    tlakey@senate.idaho.gov

Sen. Steven P. Thayn, Emmett:    (208) 332-1344    sthayn@senate.idaho.gov

Sen. Mary Souza, Coeur d’Alene:   (208) 332-1322    msouza@senate.idaho.gov

Sen. Antony L. Potts, Idaho Falls:   (208) 332-1313    tpotts@senate.idaho.gov

Sen. Janie Ward-Engelking, Boise:   (208) 332-1425    jwardengelking@senate.idaho.gov

Sen. Grant Burgoyne, Boise:   (208) 332-1409    gburgoyne@senate.idaho.gov

 

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Legislative Alert: Please Contact Your Legislators and Ask for their Support of Magistrate Court Funding Bill—HB 643

Posted By Justin Ruen, Friday, March 2, 2018

Landmark magistrate court funding legislation co-sponsored by the Association of Idaho Cities and the Idaho Association of Counties was approved yesterday by the House Judiciary, Rules & Administration Committee and will be up for floor consideration soon in the House.

We ask city officials to contact their local legislators and respectfully ask that they support House Bill 643.  You can get legislators’ email addresses and phone numbers through the Idaho Legislature’s website.

House Bill 643 is the product of a work group including city and county elected officials, as well as representatives from Idaho’s court system that met over the interim to try to find a consensus legislative solution to Idaho’s court funding challenges.

Idaho has a unified state judiciary: all judges are state employees, but the counties are responsible for providing facilities, staffing and equipment for the District and Magistrate Courts. 

The courts are currently facing a funding crisis as revenue from misdemeanor and infraction citations has declined substantially in recent years.  Many counties are at the state law levy caps for their Justice and District Court Funds and are unable to raise additional revenue through property taxes.  Counties are also facing very costly public defense reforms that will require additional funding to ensure indigent criminal defendants are afforded a legal defense that meets the requirements of the state and federal constitutions.

Cities are part of the court funding deliberations because of Idaho Code 1-2218, which provides:

“Any city in the state shall, upon order of a majority of the district judges in the judicial district, provide suitable and adequate quarters for a magistrate’s division of the district court, including the facilities and equipment necessary to make the space provided functional for its intended use, and shall provide for the staff personnel, supplies, and other expenses of the magistrate’s division.”

This law provides broad authority for judges to determine that a city will be liable for providing court facilities, equipment and staffing.  Currently, several cities voluntarily agree to provide financial support for magistrate courts in lieu of providing facilities, equipment and staffing as required by Idaho Code 1-2218.  The City of Meridian is currently in litigation with Ada County over requirements that the city provide court facilities and given the scope of the court funding challenges it seems likely that more cities would face such demands in the future.

After considering a wide range of options, the work group decided to support a proposal dedicating a portion of future revenue growth from the State Liquor Fund to provide additional court funding.  Liquor revenue has a clear nexus to courts and is a revenue source that has grown consistently.  That would satisfy the need for court funding and allow for the repeal of Idaho Code 1-2218. 

The legislation contains the following provisions:

·         Each city would forego 3.66% increments of growth in State Liquor Fund revenues for the five years of implementation.  Each county would forego 2% increments of growth in the State Liquor Fund.  State Liquor Fund revenues typically grow between 5-6% a year.

·         The State of Idaho would divert $6 of court fees from the state general fund to magistrate courts.  There is an additional $1 fee diversion to the Peace Officers Standards & Training (POST) to hold them harmless. 

·         Prevents any new cities from being ordered to provide magistrate court facilities or funding upon enactment.

·         Phases out current city magistrate court funding obligations over a five-year period beginning in fiscal year 2019 and ending in fiscal year 2023.

·         Funds will be distributed to counties through a formula with a base amount for every county and the remainder distributed by a combination of population and caseloads of municipal misdemeanor and infraction charges.

·         Funds will be deposited into a newly created county magistrate court fund to ensure funds are dedicated to magistrate court operations.

·         Fully repeals Idaho Code 1-2218 on July 1, 2023.

HB 643 will benefit cities by repealing Idaho Code 1-2218 and providing certainty about cities’ financial obligations for magistrate court funding. 

The bill will benefit counties and the courts by providing sustainable funding for our court system.

The bill also reflects the fact that the State of Idaho has an important stake in the magistrate court system.  The Idaho State Police issue misdemeanor and infraction citations that create workload for the magistrate courts.  It is also important to recognize that most city and county citations are enforcing state laws, not local ordinances, and that the State of Idaho benefits from these enforcement efforts.

For these reasons, the Association of Idaho Cities and the Idaho Association of Counties strongly support House Bill 643 and we respectfully ask legislators to support this important bill.

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