In an unusually short city council meeting this week, the city council approved a contract for radio hardware ($78,840) and purchased a piece of land without having had a prior plan to do so ($50,000). The meeting lasted roughly twenty-five minutes, which means the council managed to spend $5,153.60 per minute. Now that is power!
There were only four members of the city council present (Nikki Boyd and Shawn Barigar were not present. Chris Reid called in, bringing the total number of council members to five.) The first item the council heard was a request to allow for a sole-source contract to Avtec Scout LLC. to replace parts of the city’s dispatch system. What does sole-source mean, you ask? It means that no other companies can bid or offer to work on the equipment being replaced, essentially creating a monopoly condition. The request was approved with no questions from the council in a unanimous vote. The next request was the second half of the first request: a request to grant the sole-source contract in the amount of $78,840 to Avtec Scout LLC. The contract will replace radios and some other equipment in the dispatch center, as well as provide for software upgrades. Never fear, citizens, the city council was reassured that CARES Act money will be used to cover this expense. For those of you keeping tabs, the CARES Act was misguidedly passed by congress to provide relief to businesses and individuals adversely affected by COVID-19. What does replacing radios and upgrading software have to do with COVID-19? That’s a great question! One that none of the council members asked. The request was granted by unanimous vote.
The last item of consideration was a request to purchase a parcel of land adjacent to existing city property. According to assistant city manager Mitch Humble, the land purchase has been in the words since 2001. Until recently, the land was owned by citizens who didn’t want to sell it to the city, but it was purchased recently by individuals who are more willing to sell it. The land purchase would connect two existing city properties, and would allow for easier annexation into the city itself. Currently none of the land is eligible for annexation (the process by which a city consumes more land to allow for expansion), begging the question if the city cannot annex this property, why are we buying it so prematurely, and why have we had a plan to do so for twenty years? The request for the purchase in the amount of $50,000 was approved unanimously by the city council.
Two citizens spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting, both making excellent points. Matt Feemster of Twin Falls mentioned that he would like to see more conscious deliberation from the city council in future budget meetings, as he saw this year’s deliberations as focusing on the unimportant parts of the budget while wholesale approval of big ticket items was the norm. Citizen Michael Alred also spoke, asking if the rumors of a new historic district in Twin Falls had any merit. He gave a reasoned and intelligent argument as to why as a home-owner this would be detrimental to his ability to make renovations or improvements on his home, which would fall within the new historic district if it were to be created. Councilman Craig Hawkins (the council’s liaison to the historic preservation commission that had discussed this last week) mentioned that they did discuss a new historic district, but that a decision was a long way down the road, and that he should speak at that commission’s meeting. We are sure that after making the time to come and speak to the city council (the ultimate arbiters of whether or not a new historic district is created), Mr. Alred was thrilled at the suggestion to go to yet another meeting and speak to unelected bureaucrats.
If you find any of this unsettling (and you should) make your voice heard! The city council has three seats coming up for election in 2022, and the council members can be reached at their city email addresses. Don’t remain silent!
Next week there will be no meeting (9/6/2021) so the next city council meeting will be Monday 9/13/2021.