Thank you so much to all those who supported me during the campaign. I particularly want to thank my husband, who thought all the political nonsense would be over in 2002 when my term on the Boise City Council expired. And thanks to Judge Mike Wetherell who swore me in today. We served together for 16 years and you will never find a better public servant than Mike Wetherell. There are so many others to thank that I will not do so by name so I don’t forget anyone, but you all know who you are. You were with me early and you were with me at the end and I appreciate every single one of you.
And I will need every single one of you to continue to be involved because no one person can do this alone. I need your suggestions for improvements and your comments and even your complaints. It is only by encouraging input from the people of Ada County and listening to that input that we as elected officials can do a good job.
During the past good times, the Commission has done an admirable job directing the dollars but we now face an uncertain revenue future even with the registration fee money. We must all cooperate – all of us – inside the ACHD, the cities, the county, ITD and especially the public to make this work. No longer can we have jurisdictional squabbles. We all live and drive in this county. I spent a considerable amount of time in December meeting with the cities, county commissioners, District 3 ITD, Compass, settlers canal and will continue to meet with whomever, whenever. The lines of communication must continually be open.
We all have a stake in efficient and effective transportation and the wise and prudent spending of tax dollars. ACHD is, in effect, a service agency to the general purpose governments. The committed to service logo on the shirts and letterhead should mean just that.
So I have a number of suggestions for the immediate future I know the rest of the Commissioners view these items in as an important a manner as do I.
We must settle the case with Settler’s Canal. We cannot expect to spend another $1.6 million or so just on legal fees on top of the over $2 million we have already spent. We must come to a mutual solution outside of the courtroom. This will allow us to spend the money on projects that will benefit drivers or bicyclists or pedestrians – not high priced lawyers from both sides. I believe I have a solution and I’ll be bringing it up at a commission meeting very soon.
We could take this savings of $1.6 million or so and divide it up among the cities and the county on population, allowing these jurisdictions to direct the money to projects they think are important to their communities that are not otherwise on the schedule. It might be a traffic signal, or a pedestrian crosswalk. Perhaps it’s paving a small local road or putting in sidewalks.
We need to start this cooperative effort and do it every year. And in order to maximize our revenue dollars and determine where and how they are spent, we need good information. We need to update the 1995-2003 Revenue/Expenditure Report By Jurisdiction requested by former Commissioner Susan Eastlake to include 2004 to 2008 and then produce this report every year. In these trying economic times, good information is critical to making good decisions.
This will provide transparency. And in another move towards absolute transparency, we should put our budget, with ongoing revenues and expenditures on our website. The State of Texas has done this and has found it to be a useful tool for the public. It cuts down on public information requests and it allows the public to view every expense and make suggestions. Texas is one of the few states that has a surplus. If an entity as big as Texas can do this, certainly we can as well. Ada County residents have already paid for this information. We should provide it with the least possible hassles or bureaucratic impediment.
Government can help or hinder an economic recovery. We need to ensure that ACHD is helpful. One example would be a review of impact fees. I believe we should have a major conversation about impact fees and planned communities. These communities overburden existing roads as they reach for the edges of the county. The impact fees to improve these roads are not collected and spent for 5-10 years, leading to overcrowded conditions prior to construction and irritating disruptions during construction. Might it not be better to collect no impact fees on residential in planned communities but require the roads to these communities be built out by the developers? Neighborhood commercial impact fees should be standardized throughout the county to encourage neighborhood commercial development in areas where people actually live. After all, no one in Kuna wants to go to Meridian or Boise to fill their car or buy milk – they want to do it in their neighborhood.
We need to look forward. We need to be innovative. We cannot be static, not in this economic environment. We must look to the “drivability” of our roads as well as the “engineeredness” of the roads. This means accelerating the changing of existing signals to smart signals, putting in permissive left turn greens and constructing a right hand turn lane at every new intersection.
Again, I encourage everyone to participate. Send in your suggestions and tell me your ideas. My e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. I am going to have a blog. And you can always call me at 387-6132. I may not always agree, but I will always listen.
Together we can get Ada County moving.
This website is paid for by:
Sara Baker, ACHD Commissioner
Diana Tretreault, Treasurer