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Ballot Box, election, vote

A voter slips a ballot into a box at the Twin Falls County Courthouse, March, 2014.

TWIN FALLS — Voters in Twin Falls will decide May 21 whether to allow the city to issue $36 million in bonds in order to improve infrastructure for the fire and police departments.

The City Council voted unanimously on Monday to approve an ordinance and resolution that will put the bond issue on the ballot. The city would like to spend the money to replace its three Twin Falls fire stations, remodel the existing Station 1 for police use, and then build a training center for firefighters.

Although projects’ costs are estimated at $35.4 million, the city will ask voters for a rounded $36 million in bonds. The ballot question will have to pass with a supermajority, or 66.7 percent of the vote.

“I know the need is real, and we have tried to stage our infrastructure improvements so it doesn’t affect everyone at once,” Councilwoman Suzanne Hawkins said. “I think it’s always OK to ask our citizens what they think.”

The plans are based on a needs analysis and a committee’s recommendations.

Before voting, the Council heard from its bond counsel and financial adviser to get details about the 20-year general obligation bond. Zions Public Finance is projecting a 3.55 percent interest rate on the bonds.

The city will collect money via property taxes on roughly $3.5 billion of total taxable value. The tax rate that will appear on the ballot is $71.17 per $100,000 in taxable value (after applying exemptions) over 20 years.

Also during the meeting, City Manager Travis Rothweiler presented the charter for the new Diversity and Inclusion Committee that will report to his office. The city manager began having discussions with citizens this summer after the Council declined to pass a resolution opposing family separation at U.S.-Mexico border.

Through many meetings and conversations, he and a group of interested citizens came up with the charter.

“This is not something I did or could ever have constructed on my own,” Rothweiler said.

The committee will help the city be more nimble and responsive to citizen’s needs, advising the city manager on issues related to diversity and inclusion, Rothweiler said.

“We will start a series of listening sessions,” he said. “These listening sessions will help us create a better level of understanding.

The city is accepting letters of interest from potential committee members until March 8. Rothweiler wants to recruit five to nine people who have a passion for inclusion and diversity and want to “create a better, stronger Twin Falls.” The committee is open to any and all demographics.

To conclude the meeting, the Council had a discussion with Rothweiler regarding its priorities for the use of $775,000 in foregone balance in future years. Council members brought up the need for sidewalks in areas around schools, improving an access road to Shoshone Falls Park, funding an archway message board over Shoshone Street, and improving the entrance to the Joslin Field — Magic Valley Regional Airport terminal.

Other actions taken Monday:

  • The Council reappointed Dennis Sonius to serve a five-year term as a commissioner for the Twin Falls Housing Authority.
  • The Council approved the City of Twin Falls and Twin Falls Fire Fighters Local 1556 Collective Bargaining Agreement.

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