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Local News Twin Falls City Council

Council approves $34,000,000+ budget for 2021-2022

The 2021-2022 budget was approved unanimously by all 7 council members. Throughout the process, the council asked few questions and offered little input, largely deferring to unelected city manager Travis Rothweiler.

This week’s city council meeting marked the final approval of the budget for the upcoming 2021-2022 fiscal year. All council members were present to vote: Shawn Barigar and Chris Reid called in from home. The bulk of the meeting was occupied with a request by the chief of police and a discussion about whether or not the council would approve pulling funds from a reserve fund to cover unexpected expenses. 

The city council managed to clear some red tape for one Twin Falls family when they granted a non-conforming building expansion waiver to allow them to build an awning on the front of their house. Apparently the walkway cover, which was being built to replace and expand an existing one on the applicant’s property, violated some city statute or guideline or directive or (fill in the blank with whichever bureaucratic imposition you like) and therefore had to be brought before the city council. The council listened as a city employee explained the reasons for this family needing to beg for the privilege of building a structure on their own property. Rules like this one are exactly the kind of government overreach that creeps in subtly and mostly unnoticed and stifles individual liberties. The greatest harm to mankind often comes from well-intentioned bureaucrats. To their credit, the council voted unanimously to approve the waiver, allowing the property owners to build the structure. 

Twin Falls Police Department requested the city council extend the contract with Axon Enterprises Inc. for $484,320. Axon supplies Twin Falls PD with their body cameras, storage for the footage recorded on the cameras, and maintenance and replacement of equipment. This is a four year contract, and from what the officer presenting the request said, it seems like the department is stuck with Axon as all of their equipment is proprietary to that company. Could this lead to a monopolistic relationship between our city and Axon Enterprises Inc?

Police chief Kingsbury presented his annual report for 2020 to the council. Among many highlights and positives for our men in blue, he brought up a few opportunities that they could improve upon. The chief mentioned that the department does a lot of “welfare checks” on citizens whose family has called the police to check in on their loved ones. It’s a sad commentary on the state of the family in our area that folks have no support system for their loved ones other than to call a law enforcement agency to check in on them. The chief mentioned this as if it were a good thing. The chief also mentioned that the department had received fourteen complaints from the public, of which thirteen were found to have been credible. Chief Kingsbury also mentioned the life-saving effects that NARCAN is having on our community. NARCAN is a nasal spray that police and paramedics use on folks who overdose on heroin or opioids. The fact that it was mentioned prominently in the 2020 annual police review highlights our community’s desperate problem with opioid addiction. 

Toward the end of the meeting, the council opened up the floor to public discussion on the budget. This was the last step before approval, and only one citizen spoke during the hearing. His comments were limited to offering his help in building a pedestrian walkway under Pole Line Road. Sadly, no one objected to any of the expenditures proposed for 2021-2022. Vice Mayor Ruth Pierce motioned to adopt the budget, and Greg Lanting seconded. The budget was approved unanimously.  

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