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Bieter at FY 2017 Strategic Planning: New Library is 'Project Whose Time Has Come'

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KELSEY HAWES
  • Kelsey Hawes
The city of Boise turns the page on its fiscal year each Oct. 1. With that in mind, Boise Mayor Dave Bieter is huddling with the Boise City Council and city staff Tuesday morning to put together a plan for how and where they'll be spending their effort—particularly when it comes to strategic planning—over the next 12 months.

"I don't think it will come as a shock to anyone that, at the top of my list, is the main library, front and center," said Bieter, who hasn't been shy about his desire to build and/or renovate a new downtown branch on Capitol Boulevard. "It's a project whose time has come. I would like to see us spend the next six months with financial analyses and some reach-out for philanthropic opportunities. Then we would bring it back to the council for a pretty involved discussion in preparation of taking this to stakeholders and the public."

Bieter said the library was one of three priorities that he wanted to see at the top of City Hall's strategic planning for FY 2017, the second being an improvement of citizen interactions when it comes to city services.

The mayor said his third priority would be to gauge the possibility of moving forward with a local option initiative. Idaho remains one of a handful of states that restricts cities' efforts to ask voters to create tax-based revenue for municipal projects. The Idaho Legislature has continually nixed any change in the status quo, leaving local option advocates to talk about a statewide ballot initiative to allow cities to pursue such a revenue stream. 

"I hope to spend a good deal of time this next fiscal year working on a possible local option initiative," said Bieter. "It remains to be seen if it's going to be possible, and I should know a lot more in the next six to eight weeks."

Other high-profile issues expected to be part of the city's FY 2017 strategic planning are an update to the Boise Airport master plan, further analysis of downtown parking, the city's "Housing First" initiative to fight homelessness and a string of capital improvement projects.