A public hearing will be held at City Hall on Monday, August 23, 2021 at 6pm to hear the citizens’ concerns and opinions about the budget.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read)
- Budget proposal:
- Human Resources: $662,759 or +26.48%
- Twin Falls will be taking federal Housing and Urban Development grant from fed
- Watch the recording of the meeting for yourself to check our facts
Historic Preservation Commission Appointments
The first order of business for the Twin Falls City Council was to approve the appointment of two members to the Historic Preservation Commission. The Historic Preservation Commission is a bureaucracy with the express purpose of levying additional fees and oversight against businesses that happen to fall within specific, arbitrary boundaries of the city. Both members were approved with no questions or discussion. Shawn Barigar was not present for the meeting.
Human resources Budget
Travis Rothweiler again introduced his 2022 proposed budget to the City Council, this week focusing on the human resources department for city employees. After giving a recap of what the council had already heard, Gretchen Scott, the Director of Human Resources for the city of Twin Falls, presented her department’s portion of the budget. The theme of making the city of Twin Falls an employer of choice ran throughout the presentation. Twin Falls is currently competitive with other government entities in terms of benefits and compensation, and the 2022 budget increases the pay of city employees by 3.3%. Twin Falls city employees’ benefits will increase by 9.4%, and next year by another 12%. Ms. Scott admitted that the current trajectory of the city employees’ insurance costs is unsustainable.
To fix this, Ms. Scott proposed a change in insurance carrier and in the plan the city provides to one that will increase deductibles, but decrease monthly costs. City employees will have to pay more when they use their insurance, but they will save $1000 per year ($1600 for a family) in monthly costs. Councilwoman Nikki Boyd voiced her support of that plan. The Councilwoman was immediately followed by Councilman Greg Lanting, who recommended caution with that approach, as the lower-paid city employees (according to Mr. Lanting) would be hardest hit by such an adjustment.
Gretchen Scott claimed that “toxic masculinity” has led to mental illness among the city’s employees. To bolster this claim, Ms. Scott explained that COVID-19 (and the gene therapies being referred to as “vaccinations”) have become a contentious subject within the organization. She related that no matter what the opinion an employee has, at the end of the day they have to work together, and any experience of debilitating illness is a tragedy. She claimed that the city of Twin Falls will have a difficult fall and winter, and that the City Council should advocate for COVID-19 “vaccination”. Greg Lanting asked what the city might do to encourage its employees to get the jab. Mr. Lanting reassured those listening that he would not support a mandate for city employees, an uncharacteristically pro-liberty stance for the Councilman. Ms. Scott answered that she felt she had been a coward because she hadn’t pushed back against gene therapy hesitancy in the workplace, and doubled down on her commitment to “outreach and advocacy” in the workplace. Ms. Scott mentioned that some city employees felt it was immoral to offer such incentives as Mr. Lanting had suggested, but that she didn’t agree with that assessment.
C.D.B.G. Public Hearing
The last portion of the meeting was devoted to a public hearing about the city’s plan for a C.D.B.G. grant. A brief primer on C.D.B.G. grants: C.D.B.G. stands for Community Development Block Grant. It is a federal program that was created by the Housing & Urban Development (HUD) department. Cities agree to spend these federal dollars on things like low-income housing improvement projects, homelessness mitigation, and administration of the grant itself. In return, the federal government grants those cities hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars for these purposes. Twin Falls has been applying for and receiving these C.D.B.G.s for many years.
Twin Falls will receive $361,790 in C.D.B.G.s in 2022 (we received approximately $340,000 for 2021). The breakdown of the funds as proposed is as follows:
|Housing Rehabilitation (low income rental housing improvements)||$106,004|
|Sidewalks & ADA Ramps||$129,160|
|Public Services (services for low- and moderate-income groups)||$54,268|
|Program Administration (pay a bureaucrat to run the program)||$72,358|
Keep in mind that these costs are for one year. During the presentation, the term “fair housing” was used in the slides to justify part of the program, but no definition of what that means was given. Interestingly, the total percentage that H.U.D. allows from these C.D.B.G. grants to be spent on administration of the grant money is 20% of the grant amount. As shown in the table above, Twin Falls will be spending the maximum allowed amount on the administration of the program. The city council asked no questions, and requested no clarifications about the way the money will be spent.
For those of you who find any of these details disturbing, or who wish to comment on the budget proposal for FY 2022, please show up on Monday, August 23, 2021 at 6pm for the public hearing to voice your concerns.