Robert Ehlert: Bieter to hear concerns on bond proposal

rehlert@idahostatesman.comAugust 20, 2013 

Robert Ehlert

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The last 10 days of this month are shaping up to be key on a number of fronts that could affect the Boise bond initiative and, perhaps, new education ideas in Idaho.

Monday marked the first of three open house forums in which Boise city officials are making themselves available to provide information and answer questions regarding Mayor Dave Bieter's $34 million bond proposal to upgrade public safety infrastructure and service, parks and secure open space tracts for the future. The other dates are 4 p.m. Wednesday at Grace Jordan Community Center, 6411 W. Fairfield Ave. and 4 p.m. Thursday, City Hall, council chambers, third floor, 150 N. Capitol Blvd.

I would love to know what you are thinking about these improvements and the bond approach to fund them. The city estimates the projects will cost the average Boise homeowner an additional $13 each year in property taxes. On the surface, that sounds like money you could find in couch crevices and beneath car seats, but we hope to get some elaboration on who is an "average homeowner" and whether there will be additional upkeep and staffing for these projects that will create costs as well.

For a variety of reasons and in a variety of locations, school districts are considering bonds that will impact our pocketbooks as well. That's why we are curious what the findings will be as Gov. Butch Otter's Task Force For Improving Education wraps up later this week. Those in the know say some of the findings could begin to trickle in this week. The group has been meeting since the first of the year, and we know school superintendents from several large districts are waiting to hear - among other things - whether any operational funding will be restored.

The newsmaking possibilities of this week are a good example of why we are glad our Editorial Board is supplemented by community members who help us consider issues as we are planning and writing editorials.

Earlier this month our Editorial Board welcomed a new member, Becky McKinstry of Meridian.

We are delighted to have Becky join us because of her business and community service background, but especially because she is plugged in to what is going on in the rapidly growing western communities in the Treasure Valley.

She and her husband, Tom McKinstry, have lived in Meridian for nearly 25 years, and that is the main place they raised their four daughters. During her time in Meridian, Becky has operated a number of businesses that have tended to focus on management consulting. She has seen the Meridian schools and local government grapple with all kinds of problems during growth spurts and through tough times.

In addition to her outside-Boise perspectives, Becky has been a member of the Meridian Chamber of Commerce for 20 years and served as that body's president from 1995 to 1996. She now serves on the Technical Advisory Committee at the College of Western Idaho. She previously served as past lieutenant governor for the Meridian Kiwanis Club and on the board of the Idaho Air Quality Board. Becky was named Small Business Person of the Year in 2004 by the Meridian Chamber of Commerce, and Woman of the Year in 2006 for Meridian.

Becky will serve with our other community member, Martin Peterson, at least until the end of the year. Publisher Mike Jung, editorial writer Chuck Malloy and myself make up the balance of the Editorial Board.

Robert Ehlert is the Statesman's editorial page editor. Contact him at 377-6437, or on Twitter @IDS_HelloIdaho.

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