Nampa mayor, City Council winners touting frugality, accountability

The mayor-elect says he will meet with staffers to make sure they get the message.

cmsewell@idahostatesman.comNovember 7, 2013 

Bob Henry monitors election results at his home on Tuesday.

KATHERINE JONES — kjones@idahostatesman.com Buy Photo

  • NEW DAY JOB FOR HENRY

    Becoming mayor will mean a major life change for Councilman Bob Henry, who has owned an insurance business for 35 years.

    He said he is selling the business so he can focus all his energy on leading the city. Being Nampa’s mayor is a full-time job, paying $74,432 a year. Part-time council members earn $10,930 annually.

    “I am going to be a stay-at-home mayor. I do not want to travel. I do not want to go to conferences. I am going to stay around here and work really hard,” Henry said.

The city of Nampa will have four new City Council members and a new mayor in January, after Councilman Bob Henry upended Mayor Tom Dale’s 12-year run by 113 votes Tuesday.

The new leaders say they intend to stop or limit urban renewal projects and give the agency that spends tax money on new construction projects tighter oversight.

A leadership change is “what the voters wanted,” Henry said. “They wanted to add two new council seats. They wanted a new mayor.”

Earlier this year, Nampa voters approved expanding the City Council from four to six members. Joining Henry in January on the city dais will be Randy Haverfield, Paul Raymond and Bruce Skaug. Incumbent Councilwoman Pam White retained her seat by 299 votes. Incumbent Martin Thorne did not seek re-election; incumbent Stephen Kren was not up for election.

The identity of the fourth new council member is not known. Henry said he has not selected who he wants to take his council seat when he becomes mayor. But he said he wants to make his choice before the first council meeting in January, so that member can be sworn in and start with the rest of the new team.

This new council will be green — none of the three rookies has held office. Haverfield is an architect, Raymond is the city’s former public works director and Skaug is an attorney.

The new mayor and council members face some daunting tasks. They say voters want Nampa’s property taxes lowered (they are second-highest in the Treasure Valley), urban renewal restricted (about $35 million in outstanding bonds) and the Idaho Center weaned ($100,000 monthly city subsidy).

“We got our marching orders from the voters and we have to get going,” Henry said.

Henry said he will meet with council members and brainstorm before January “to see if we are on the same path.” He said he also wants to talk individually with each department head to make sure they understand the voters’ mandate for smaller, more accountable city government.

“We need to look for efficiencies,” Henry said.

LEASHING URBAN RENEWAL

Two new public buildings — the public safety building and library — have given Nampa taxpayers a $35 million debt. Critics complain that taxpayers didn’t get to vote for either project. They also say taxpayers have no say in who serves on the urban renewal board, which is appointed by the mayor, or how the agency spends the roughly $3 million it receives annually in property tax money.

That’s why Nampa voters clamored for urban renewal change, say the newly elected officials, who want to put a leash on the city’s urban renewal agency.

“The future of urban renewal in Nampa is dead,” Skaug declared. “No more new projects.”

Raymond would support new urban renewal projects only if they are approved by voters; Haverfield said he wants to see urban renewal addressed.

Henry wants to consider replacing the appointed urban renewal agency board with elected council members, an approach the city of Eagle used.

“Three of the seven urban renewal board members do not live in the city,” Henry said. “They are not accountable to anyone but themselves.”

White, the re-elected incumbent, agrees that taxes, urban renewal and the Idaho Center are hot-button issues that have dogged the city. But she’s not saying exactly what changes she would like to see.

“There are some weighty issues facing the city of Nampa. If we can all get together and talk out loud, it is going to be very exciting,” she said.

Skaug and Raymond said voters elected members who support conservative fiscal policy and frugal spending. Raymond said his years as Nampa’s public works director and as Mountain Home’s city engineer give him insight into how councils and cities function.

“I think it is going to be a really good team,” said Haverfield. “Bob is going to be a really good quarterback.”

Cynthia Sewell: 377-6428, Twitter: @CynthiaSewell

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