Letter to the Editor
April 29, 2020
Prior to the pandemic, according to the Idaho Dept of Commerce, employees earned $1.1 billion in 2017 in the travel industry in Idaho and “travelers spent $3.7 billion in Idaho in 2017”. That is going to be a huge hole in Idaho’s economy now with travel and tourism shut down in the state and the potential for being shut down through at least the summer season, if not through this next year. In parallel, we have found out through this shelter-in-place experience how important electricity is. We have been able to stay connected with each other, to educate our kids, and to work from home through our computers and internet connections.
Generating electricity in Idaho is the solution to Idaho climbing out of this economic devastation. Rather than buying power from power plants in other states and sending the income and property tax payments out of our state, we can build our own power plants here. Construction jobs here, property tax revenues paid here, and power plant income created in, and circulating in Idaho. Right now, Idaho Power wants to build a huge B2H transmission project to bring power from Oregon plants 305 miles to Idaho, with a clearcut 250 ft wide swath through forests to get here. This is crazy! For the same amount of money, Idaho Power could build its own wind and solar projects here with now technologically great and cheaper batteries that ‘firm’ the power to be dispatchable when needed. All the other states in the US are replacing transmission projects with renewables/battery projects as it is cheaper for ratepayers. We already have transmission lines that we could use to sell excess power to states around us; the 2019 Integrated Resource Plan notes that Idaho experiences different peak demand times than neighboring states, so can profit off excess power at our low demand times. Let’s use the naturally-occuring resources we have here in abundance-solar, wind & hydro- and build our own electricity-generating projects. This is how we can significantly rebuild our economy here in Idaho!
… 63,000 Idahoans are directly and indirectly employed by the travel industry.
“Travel and tourism is a massive industry in Idaho – the third largest behind
“Two of the biggest things that draw tourists here, according to Borud, is that they have a good experience and that they feel safe and secure.”
Mountain Express Ad
Our County Commissioners are thoughtlessly spending down our reserves!
For fiscal year 2020, the Commissioners have already overspent by $323,617 year-to-date in six budget categories, and not all on pandemic-related expenses; actually $197,771 has been spent on outside attorneys!
In the County budget, we already pay salaries and benefits for the Prosecuting Attorney, Chief Deputy, and other staff at $1,063,002 per year.
But on two issues, the road validation at Lee’s Gulch and the Flying Heart subdivision public parking on private roads issue, the Commissioners have spent an additional $252,477 on outside attorneys and professionals for 2018-2020-to-date. And the end of these legal fees is nowhere in sight as the controversies head into litigation.
For the Lee’s Gulch issue, the homeowner has repeatedly offered a public non-motorized easement over his driveway to the County at no charge. The County should accept this public easement. The County Road & Bridge Department already has a backlog of $10-20 million of existing road repairs that it doesn’t know how it is going to fund. For Flying Heart, I believe that a reasonable negotiation with the neighbors could lead to a solution that continues to provide public access while protecting homeowners from trespass and degradation of their properties through active County management of the public access.
The County’s cash reserves will be drained by the economic hit this pandemic will have on our recreational Valley economy and now is the time to cut unnecessary County expenses so that we can provide the vital County services through many years of recovery.
I call on the County Commissioners to stop incurring these exorbitant outside law firm legal bills. Work with the Blaine citizens to resolve these situations amicably and stop the budget bleeding.
Blaine County Commissioner Candidate
I will be on your ballot in the General Election Nov 3rd as an Independent candidate. My independence from the ‘same ole, same ole’ frees me up to really represent the interests of Blaine County citizens first and foremost. And I am very concerned that so many Blaine residents have been thrown out of work and shut down their businesses with no clear future in sight for our Valley. Now is not the time for the County to be frivolously fighting in the courts.
- Letter from Tim Graves, Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney stated, “The County is fine with being granted an easement for public access across your property but we would like to define the easement to be 24 feet in width, which will accommodate two vehicles passing one another.” 5/24/2012