Boise bonds big question on election day

Boise bonds big question on election day

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by Justin Corr

Bio | Email | Follow: @JCorrKTVB

KTVB.COM

Posted on November 4, 2013 at 12:10 AM

Updated Monday, Nov 4 at 12:22 PM

BOISE -- Election day is Tuesday, November 5th. There are no statewide positions on the ballot, but for many cities in the area, there are important questions.

Voters in Nampa and Caldwell will elect a mayor. There are interesting city council races in Boise, Meridian, and Nampa. But, the marquee votes on the ballot in the city of trees are the bond elections.

But, with marquee votes, come major disagreements.

Earlier this year, Mayor Dave Bieter rolled out his plan for bonds to improve the city. Now, they're on the ballot, and ready to be voted on.

"We're very excited," said Bieter. "This is a wonderful opportunity to move our city forward in some important ways that will serve us for years to come."

One bond would spend more than $26 million in principal and interest to build and equip a new fire training facility and build or improve four fire stations. The other bond would spend more than $24 million in principal and interest to purchase open spaces in the Boise foothills, and build, improve, or buy land for six parks.

"To an average homeowner in the city of Boise, it's just twelve dollars a year, just a buck a month," said Bieter.

But, not everyone likes the idea of these bonds.

"To say that it's a dollar a month is almost deceitful," said David R. Frazier, editor of the Boise Guardian news blog.

Frazier says he's all for fire departments and open spaces, but says maintenance costs will rise with new stations and parks.

Bieter says those costs are in the budget.

Frazier believes there should be more time for the voting public to take a good look at these measures, before they're on the ballot. He also points out that $18 million of the combined $51 million cost for these bonds is interest.

"18 million of that is interest. We get nothing for it," said Frazier. "The city of Boise is currently without debt, and at a time when Detroit is going bankrupt, the United States of America has got all kinds of problems with debt, the last thing we want to do is go out and incur 51 million dollars worth of debt."

But, the Mayor says that interest is necessary, because fire stations and the current training facility are getting old, and are close to not meeting Boise's standards.

Bieter also says they need to buy the foothills land now before someone else does.

"Like your mortgage, you want to move into your house now, even though it costs a little more over time," said Bieter. "In the same way, we want to see to these things now."

KTVB political analyst Dr. Jim Weatherby says the support for these bonds is well-organized and well-funded, and that there's probably a majority of Boiseans who support them. But, they need a super majority to pass. 

"Will Boise voters give them a 66-and-two-thirds approval vote?" asked Weatherby. "That's what's required, and a very very high bar."

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