On February 16th, city leaders from as far south as Moscow and as far north as Ponderay came together to share concerns and discuss ideas to meet the challenges they all face as community leaders. The 2012 Idaho Legislative Session was the first item on the group’s agenda.
The topic that was mentioned first by Association of Idaho Cities (AIC) Executive Director Ken Harward was redistricting. He said there had been significant changes made, and that some very large districts had been formed. Some districts now include four (4) incumbents, and Ken said it would be interesting to see who would run, and who would decide not to run.
“It’s been great to have Ken at our meetings to keep us updated on legislative issues as well as other issues affecting our state and region,” said Mayor Sandi Bloem.
In past years, numerous legislative efforts to overhaul, restrict, or completely eliminate urban renewal agencies and/or their districts have been a constant concern to mayors. Urban renewal agencies are one of the most powerful economic development tools in Idaho. This year alone, HB 504 would change the way a URA board is selected;HB 506 would prevent URAs from exercising eminent domain; HB 507 too narrowly sets URA project parameters; HB 560 would repeal the authority to create urban renewal districts; and HB 580 would require 2/3 approval of qualified electors in a county for URAs to issue bonds. In concert with AIC, mayors are watching these bills closely.
Mayors from all over northern Idaho responded to an invitation from Mayor Sandi Bloem to participate in what was to be the first of many meetings to develop common goals for the region’s cities. At the end of that meeting in 2002, mayors decided to form the North Idaho Mayors’ Coalition (NIMC) and they elected Mayor Bloem its chair. The group meets regularly to discuss issues and to provide educational forums so they can make informed decisions.
In the years that followed, the North Idaho Mayors Coalition would have presentations on Idaho’s railways and the rails-to-trails program, the State Transportation Improvement Plan (STIP), Water Conservation and Xeriscaping, The Idaho Rural Partnership, Affordable Housing, the Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer, the P.O.S.T Academy, and a Regional Public Planning Transportation Authority (RPTA), among many other subjects.
Bloem believes that the NIMC has really broadened the number of people from north Idaho who have involved themselves at the state level and who have a presence on state committees. She says it’s because they believe they now have a voice.
“These meetings are a time to come together and better understand our common opportunities and challenges,” said Bloem. “The best meetings are the ones when mayors get to share some good news.”
For more information about the North Idaho Mayors Coalition, please call 769-2204.