It's official: Come November, Boise residents will be asked to to weigh in on a multi-million dollar bond package intended to further a slate of local improvements—from public safety to parks.
The Boise City Council voted unanimously at its Sept. 10 meeting to place the measure on the general election ballot, scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 5.
Totaling $32.9 million, the bond package was fronted by Mayor Dave Bieter at his 2013 State of the City address. Specifically, voters will be asked whether they want to pay for a $16.9 million suite of public safety improvements, which include building a new fire training facility and rebuilding four fire stations and a $15.5 million effort at protecting natural areas and improving and expanding parks in underserved neighborhoods. The remaining $500,000 would go toward required bond issuance costs.
According to a news release from the city of Boise, the bond would cost average homeowners about $12 per year.
“Boise is a great place to live because over the years we have chosen to make the needed investments to ensure our city is safe and has the open spaces and parks our children need,” Bieter stated in the release. “It is time we renew that commitment to ensure that Boise’s high livability is a legacy for future generations.”
Though the city was quick to point out that "100 percent of bond proceeds will be used for the specified purposes as verified by annual independent audits," not everyone agrees with Bieter that the bond package is entirely necessary.
Wayne Hoffman, co-founder and president of free-market group Idaho Freedom Foundation, took a shot at the bond proposal in August, when he sent a letter to the City Council criticizing the package as containing "wants" rather than "needs." Hoffman's letter prompted a response from Idaho Civic Engagement Director Emily Walton, who countered that the projects in question enhance quality of life in the City of Trees, and Hoffman "doesn't understand Boise."
The public spat intensified when an IFF freelance writer wrote on Facebook that Walton's challenge to Hoffman would "not end well for Emily. Not at all." Walton publicly demanded an apology, which Hoffman offered by way of Spokesman Review Boise correspondent Betsy Russell, telling her: "If [Walton] feels offended and she wants an apology, she has it."