The second Twin Falls city council meeting on 1/10/2022 was marked by large reserve spending, two public hearings dealing with the expansion of the city, and the council voting to accept more federal CARES dollars. If you were hoping that the new city council would spend less of your tax dollars, check the out of control expansion of the city, or stop tying Twin Falls to the federal government, better luck next election.
Spending on wastewater
The first item the council considered was a request to award a nearly two million dollar ($2,000,000) contract to GSE Construction for the construction of new boilers for the city’s wastewater treatment plan. The boilers in use now are still functioning, but as they were installed in the 1980s, they are nearing their end of life. The city employee who proposed the project made sure to mention that the wastewater department has a $15,000,000 reserve. (If you are wondering why a city of 50,000 people has a wastewater department with a $15,000,000 surplus, get in line.) The council voted unanimously to approve the contract.
More federal tax dollars for our airport
The airport manager requested approval to apply for a CRRSAA federal grant for roughly $45,000. Airport manager Bill Carberry assured the council that this money was 100% federally funded, and therefore would cost the city nothing. He didn’t make any mention of where that federal money would come from: our federal tax dollars. The council approved the request unanimously
FEMA grant for our fire department
The final issue brought before the city council was a request for the city to enter into an agreement with several of the nearby fire districts to request a grant from FEMA (yes, that FEMA) to purchase a mobile air tank refilling unit. The agreement is not unprecedented; the city applied for and accepted the same grant in 2014. The grant amount is $165,797 and ten percent is required to be paid by the applicants. The fire districts that would be joining Twin Falls in applying for the grant would split the ten percent amount of $16,580. The council voted 7 to 0 to approve the request.
Public hearings expand city growth vertically and horizontally
The meeting concluded with two public hearings, both dealing with different aspects of expansion here in Twin Falls. The first hearing was to approve the annexation of the land on the northeast corner of Hankins Road and Kimberly Road into the city, with a designation that would allow for multi-family residential housing, also known as apartments. The owner of the property has a plan to develop tenement housing on the land, and this was the first step in that process. Councilman Shawn Barigar mentioned that he had heard from the public that there were concerns over traffic in that area, but that the answer isn’t to stop growth, but to grow in the right way. He provided no details on how to grow in the right way.
Newcomer to the council Jason Brown asked whether the city would be responsible for installing sidewalks along the property, and the city employee who presented the case for the hearing answered that the owner would be responsible for that work. The council voted 7 to 0 to approve the request.
The second public hearing was to increase the height limitation imposed by city code for a new building coming to 2nd street. The building will be between Hansen street and Shoshone street on 2nd, and it will include a parking garage, retail and apartments. The request is to increase the approved height of the main building where the apartments will be by over thirty feet, allowing two more floors. Almost all of the city council members spoke of the need to grow “up and not out” or to increase our “vertical growth.” For more information on that city planning strategy, see Agenda 2030.
Newly seated councilman Spencer Cutler voiced a concern that the building would be so high with no offset from the street, and city staff mentioned that the public parking level of the new parking structure would increase the parking spaces from fifty to one hundred. They also mentioned that if the city ever decides to charge for parking downtown, the public parking in the garage would also be required to charge. One neighboring business owner spoke in favor of the building, but voiced concerns over parking for current employees of the nearby businesses, another adjacent business operator spoke in favor of the development as a whole. The council voted unanimously to approve the requested height increase.
An important fact to recognize in both public hearings is that the Planning and Zoning Commission hold total power over decisions like these. By the time requests for public input come to the council in the form of a public hearing, the request is, for all intents and purposes, already approved. In two years of attending meetings, I have never heard the city council reject a request for expansion in the form of a public hearing, no matter how many members of the community speak in opposition to the request.
Get involved to make a difference
Unfortunately, it seems for now that the new boss is much the same as the old boss when it comes to the Twin Falls city council: globalism, right here in little old Twin Falls.
What can we do?
- A good first step would be to attend the public Planning and Zoning Committee hearings and meetings and report on what you hear and see. If you need help, guidance or tips on how to report on such a meeting, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. The commission meets on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month at City Hall (203 Main Ave. E, Twin Falls, ID 83301), unless otherwise posted.
2. Refer to the image below for their 2022 public hearing schedule. Public hearings are where you can make your voice heard and speak up about any objections you have regarding the growth of the city of Twin Falls.
3. Join one of our MVLA teams to get more involved at the local level and begin networking with other like-minded patriots. Reach out to us at email@example.com for more information.