Twin Falls City Council meeting
Watch the recording of the meeting for yourself to check our facts
Monday’s City Council meeting marked the final deep-dive into the proposed 2021-2022 budget for the council. The focus areas of the budget presentation were the Airport, Parks department, and the city council’s discretionary spending budget (a total of roughly $700,000). First, Magic Valley Regional Airport manager Bill Carberry requested the council approve a grant request from the federal government as part of the American Rescue Plan Act. The grant, which purports to relieve financial stress upon COVID-19-imacted airports, requires recipients to maintain staff at 90% of pre-pandemic levels. The grant is the third in a series applied for by and granted to Magic Valley Regional Airport, and amounts to $1,253,363. The three grants together total $3,464,557 in taxpayer funds. The closest thing to a proposed use of these funds mentioned by Mr. Carverry was “…costs related to operations, personnel, cleaning, and improving terminal building air quality” and “strategic investments.”
The Deputy City Manager Mitch Humble presented the overview of the 2022 budget, and invited members of the various departments to present their specific portions of the requested budget. A representative for the Parks & Recreation department requested several $200,000 budget categories that she gave no details about, and asked for $175,000 to resurface the city pool. Mayor Suzanne Hawkins asked for details on the category “park facility enhancements.” The park facility enhancements totalled $300,000 in Twin Falls taxpayer funds. Mayor Hawkins also asked on behalf of a citizen who spoke at last week’s meeting whether or not improvements at Harrison park would be addressed in the proposed budget. The parks department representative assured the council that it would be done, “some time soon.” Shawn Barigar, in a welcome change of pace, also asked for clarification on the word “enhancements” in the proposed budget. A vague answer about improving the parks was given.
The next budget category was the regional airport. The public (taxpayer funded) airport asked for money to approximately $150,000 for upgrades to equipment and technologies. The presentations of budget categories were wrapped up when Mr. Humble asked the council to consider how they want to spend the $700,000 allowance they are given each year in the council’s discretionary fund. City Manager Travis Rothweiler asked the city council to adopt the overall 2022 proposed budget tentatively, and to officially set the date of the public hearing on the budget for August 23, 2022. The council voted 6-0 in favor of adoption, effectively limiting spending for next year to just $69,464,941.
The meeting ended with a public hearing to discuss the Glanbia production facility building silos that were above the maximum allowed height, according to Twin Falls city code. A representative from Glanbia presented the request, and assured the council that the increase in storage capacity would not increase traffic to the plant. The council asked a few questions, and approved the request in a 6-0 vote. Such public hearings, often billed as “transparency of your government at work”, are usually caused by bureaucratic, shortsighted regulations such as this one getting in the way of entrepreneurs expanding capacity. Twin Falls citizens paid for the council members and city staff present, as well as the electricity and video streaming and televising of the public hearing.There are only two weeks left until the public hearing and final approval of the 2022 budget.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to make your voice heard at the local and city levels. Whatever your concerns are, don’t miss the opportunity to air them before the council on August 23, 2021 at 6pm.
When you come, seek me out. Let’s network. Twin Falls City Hall, 203 Main Ave East.