What should Ada County do about the Fairgrounds?
Based on the Idaho Supreme Court’s decision in 2015 that the Idaho Legislature’s “vetoed” bill repealing instant horse racing machines is law, Les Bois horse racing officially ended. Twenty-five years of a very popular Idaho Lottery has had a strong fiscal impact on horse racing in Ada County.
What can be done with all or part of the Fairgrounds’ 250 acres? I believe that a new study needs to be conducted that determines what is the “highest and best use” of the property. A study was conducted in 2007, but that was before the Great Recession of 2008, and now Ada County is booming. The 2007 study had three recommendations ranging from selling one-third, one-half, or all of the land. A new study should reveal viable and profitable options. The growth of Ada County to the west of Boise raises the possibility of relocating the Western Idaho Fair. My position is that significant public input should be considered along with any study so that the highest and best use of this property will be pursued.
How could the county open up its budget process and get more people involved?
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Idaho Statesman
I attended the Ada County 2016-2017 budget hearing on July 19. The presentation and handout were well-organized and clear.
However, the auditorium was just over half full, and only four people commented. Ada County’s growing population is over 425,000 people. Before the primary election in May, I identified low citizen participation as one of the key issues facing Ada County. In February 2016, less than 20 people attended the Ada County 2025 Policy Summit for Open Space and Recreation. That is a participation rate of less than 0.005 percent. I favor active use of the Internet program Nextdoor and other social media platforms. Direct notice should also be given to all residents so that they can plan for the budget hearing. I also welcome any other ideas from our citizens.
Should cities in the county be responsible for providing court facilities?
On this issue, I will follow the law and also share my idea for a potential resolution. TJ Thomson says that cities should not have to pay for court services (Boise Weekly, 03/09/2016). However, Idaho Code §1-2218 says cities may be made responsible for providing magistrate services, and I.C. §1-2219 says that a majority of district judges can order a city to provide magistrate facilities.
TJ also says that Ada County is collecting a cash cow and Boise is the only one paying for court services. In 2009, TJ was elected to the Boise City Council. For the last seven years, what has he done to solve this problem? In 2009, the Idaho Supreme Court ruled unanimously against Boise in its attempt to stop paying this cash cow.
TJ does not mention that in 2015 Ada County sent payments from fines to every city in the county: Meridian $453,000; Boise $259,617; Garden City $168,253; Eagle $56,228; Kuna $40,020; Star $27,845.
I propose that fines and fees for magistrate offenses and other matters be increased and used for this issue. Ada County now receives $17.50 from each magistrate case (I.C. §31-3201A). Just as user-based fees are fair, I believe that violator/user fees are also fair and needed.
Rick Visser is the Republican candidate running for Ada County commissioner in District 2.