Ammon rejects Idaho Falls plan to share Hitt Road costs

Despite Ammon’s rejection of a Hitt Road funding proposal by Idaho Falls, officials in both cities remain optimistic they will

reach a cost-sharing agreement.

Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper and Ammon Mayor Dana Kirkham agreed that rejection of the city’s cost-sharing proposal to pay for Hitt Road improvements should not be viewed as a step backward for improved relations between the cities. Both cities remain committed to working together to solve issues

in which they have a shared interest.

“I would say it’s actually been incredibly positive,” Kirkham said Friday. “We will work this out.”

Improvements to Hitt Road are needed to help clear the way for a proposed 42,000 square-foot Cabela’s Inc sporting goods store in Ammon.

The informal Idaho Falls plan consisted of nine “bullet points” outlining the basic structure of an agreement.

Under the proposal, the cities would have split $2 million in expected construction costs for road development. But Ammon would cover an additional $1.5 million for road and intersection design and management, according to documents provided by Idaho Falls Council President Michael Lehto.

Idaho Falls would have covered the cost of moving power lines to make way for the new road, but Ammon would pay for all additional costs associated with speeding up the project to meet developer Ball Ventures’ April 14, 2015 deadline.

The Ammon Council unanimously supported a motion to divide costs under the terms of a 2001 memorandum of understanding between the cities, which Ammon interprets as a 50-50 split on total costs.

Before the proposal was sent to Ammon, Idaho Falls Councilwoman Sharon Parry voted against the plan. Parry argued the city was not in a position to take on additional spending obligations.

But Parry also argued that Ammon should be responsible for additional costs associated with speeding up the project to accommodate the developer.

Ammon Council President Brian Powell disputed that claim.

“The developer has a time frame,” he said. “We don’t.”

Ammon’s role should be that of a “financial partner,” Powell said, since Hitt Road is owned by Idaho Falls. He also noted that Ammon has offered to pay all project costs up front, allowing Idaho Falls to pay its share of the costs in 2017.

Ammon Councilman Brad Christensen said the project should be viewed as “regional economic development” that will benefit both cities.

Although details still must be hammered out, Casper said the ongoing communication is a sign “there is still a great deal of possibility” for the project and further “evidence we have turned over a new leaf. I’m very encouraged.”