Breaking News
More () »

Jerome's expansion and exploding economy led by the food processing industry

But city leaders said it wasn't easy - it took a lot of hard work and at least one hard lesson.

JEROME, Idaho — "We had an expensive lesson here probably 12 or some years ago with our wastewater plant," said Jerome Mayor David Davis.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) alleged that Jerome's plant was discharging wastewater into the Snake River. To settle those EPA violations, the city had to agree to upgrade its facility (which was not cheap), according to Davis, "It's a $36 million cost to the community, but we've learned from that."

Mayor Davis said that may have been the biggest challenge city leaders had seen since the city's doubling in size the past few decades. However, it's not the only challenge. "We probably would have liked to have us kept a small-town feel. But my feeling is, if you don't grow, you somewhat stagnate. And you tend to regress," Davis elaborated.

Jerome is certainly not regressing. According to city officials, the economy is booming and there's a huge demand for workers. Its progress is being led by the explosion of food processing, especially the dairy industry. "It's been said by one of the CEOs of one of those processing plants, that 'in one square mile in Jerome, more milk is processed than any other place in the world.'"

But the aforementioned growth in industry and in population means, of course, a lot more vehicles on Jerome roadways. "Roads have always been an issue within a community where there's not enough money," Davis said.

The mayor added that replacing and upgrading the roads is the city's top priority at the moment. That's so long as they can do it while being responsible with taxpayer dollars because he knows people are feeling the property tax pinch. "That's been the challenge the last three or four years. Property values, specifically single-family home values, have just skyrocketed."

In Jerome, residential property values have spiked faster than industry and commercial property values. That's shifted the major tax burden from commercial to single-family homes. The legislature and local assessors have done some work to balance that, but there's a lot more work to do. In the meantime, to help, Mayor Davis said they're being smart with their budget, avoiding costly mistakes like with wastewater and dropping the levy rate. 

"Our levy rate has dropped well over $3 per 1000 in the last three years. However, there's going to be some of those that are going to be paying more taxes, even though we dropped the levy rate. It's just the nature of the beast," Davis said. "And we're aware of that. So, we try to manage our finances as conservatively as possible, and yet still provide those services that they want."

Watch more 'Growing Idaho':

See the latest growth and development news in our YouTube playlist:


Download the KTVB News Mobile App

Apple iOS:  Click here to download

Google Play: Click here to download

Watch news reports for FREE on YouTube: KTVB YouTube channel

Stream Live for FREE on ROKU: Add the channel from the ROKU store or by searching 'KTVB'.

Stream Live for FREE on FIRE TV: Search ‘KTVB’ and click ‘Get’ to download.


Before You Leave, Check This Out