Defending Your Dollars

Next week, I will file to run for re-election to the Board of Ada County Commissioners in the Republican Primary. Why should you care? You should care because my re-election to this Board can have a significant impact on your property taxes. During the three years I have been back in office, here are some of the things I have accomplished on your behalf:

  • I told you I wanted to leave more of your money in your pockets and I have. Working together with my colleague, Commissioner Rick Yzaguirre, we left the allowable three percent property tax increase on the table for the sixth year in a row. Prior to taking office again in 2009, I had repeatedly stressed to the Board the importance of spending our public dollars wisely and only spending those dollars that were truly needed. Our statutory responsibilities are becoming even more challenging as the economy falters and obligatory costs, such as for indigent medical services, increase. Nonetheless, over six years, county property taxpayers have saved nearly $60 million, more than $43 million of which has been in the last three years alone.
  • I lobbied heavily in support of negotiating an agreement with Capital City Development Corporation (Boise City’s Urban Renewal Agency) to take over operation of what was the ridiculously expensive parking at the courthouse. It took the county a year to work out the deal, but the mission was accomplished. We were then able to cut prices from $2.50 per hour with ten free minutes, to $1.00 per hour with the first hour free.
  • Despite the reduction in parking costs at the courthouse, we still had over 3000 people jaywalking (down from 4000) each week across five lanes of traffic in front of the courthouse – sometimes with infants and young children in tow. For two years I lobbied to get a much-needed signalized crosswalk in front of the Ada County Courthouse. February 28 of this year, thanks to a partnership between Ada County, the Ada County Highway District, and the Idaho Transportation Department, that crosswalk becomes a reality.
  • The county is statutorily obligated to pay medical bills for people who are uninsured and don’t otherwise have the income or means to pay their own bills. The Indigent Services department’s budget is about $12 million and has grown significantly the past few years, with so many people out of work. I believe there is a more cost effective way to provide medical services to this population than through costly Emergency Room visits. I have worked with Idaho State University, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, and the Central District Health Department to provide free preventive health screenings in the community. The screenings are conducted by ISU students with faculty oversight. We have now added the Garden City Community Clinic and Family Medicine Residency as community partners, so when health problems are discovered at the screenings, the patient can access necessary preventive care and treatment, where personal responsibility for one’s health is stressed. For an investment of less than $150,000, lives have been saved. We have a biostatistician working to calculate savings to taxpayers. For my vision and role in setting up this more cost-effective preventive care program, I was honored with an Idaho Health Care Heroes Award, as a Health Care Innovator, by the Idaho Business Review in 2011.
  • I had the honor of serving as Chair of the Hazard Mitigation Plan Steering Committee, in which 21 separate taxing districts in Ada County came together to create a new Hazard Mitigation Plan. Our completed Hazard Mitigation Plan received high ratings from FEMA.
  • I periodically contribute to this blog and my Facebook page, to keep people informed about what is going on in Ada County.
  • Finally this year, I obtained the necessary second vote for the county to take over the provision of Misdemeanor Probation services in Ada County. The Ada County Sheriff’s Office will take over management of the program when the current contract ends on September 30 of this year. Although I believe in limited government, one of the tasks that is reasonably performed by government is protecting public health and safety. Putting this program under the Sheriff, who already runs the work release center, community service program, Sheriff’s Inmate Labor Detail, and other alternative sentencing programs, makes more sense than having it done by a controversial private sector contractor.

For me, this election is about running on my record – the things I have accomplished on your behalf during the time I have had the honor and privilege of serving as your Ada County commissioner. I hope you will support me in my re-election efforts. Thank you!

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