Special Council Meeting

The Blackfoot City Council gathered for a special meeting on Wednesday to make decisions on the purchase of a new city hall and the construction project on Fisher Street.

BLACKFOOT – The Blackfoot City Council voted to forego a possible purchase of the old Nonpareil Administration building for a possible new city hall during a special meeting Wednesday afternoon.

Mayor Marc Carroll provided background on the purchase of the former Nonpareil building, explaining that there has been interest in the purchase of the building for years. The city wanted to cohabitate the police department with City Hall, which is common practice in most cities. Carroll then noted that the city could not afford it at the time, but due to budget management and CARES Act Funds, they are now in a financial position where they would be able to purchase the property.

Carroll said the city is in the due diligence process currently, with the final date of the due diligence phase ending Friday, June 11. Anderson provided a presentation of the process and the total cost of the purchase after Carroll’s initial statements. The purchase price of the building is $975,000 with two different options. The first would be a down payment of $450,000 with two payments annually of $250,050. The other option would be a purchase-in-full.

City Treasurer Graham Anderson noted that the city ended the 2020 fiscal year with a $1.2 million carryover as well as nearly $400,000 of CARES funding reimbursements — totaling nearly $1.6 million that the city has access to for the purchase of the building. He then noted that the city is on track for their budget with 67% of the fiscal year completed at this point in time. The taxes and funds that the city receives its money through were on par or ahead of the expected values during the pandemic, including liquor sales and property tax.

Anderson introduced approved and needed expenditures to the council as well, including the downtown parking study, the approval of nearly $342,000 for police wages, FCS Study at $120,000, the police car lease totaling $145,517 and the need for new SCBA gear for the fire department at $250,000. The FCS study was part of the most recent study that involved wastewater and the SCBA apparatuses are the breathing devices for firefighters in a fire. They are in the process of trying to obtain a grant for the SCBAs, but Anderson wanted the council to be aware of the cost. He explained the intentions of showing the different costs that were not budgeted in the 2021 FY, and how they would be pulled from the carryover funds from 2020.

City Clerk Suzanne McNeel said the total to move city hall to the new location would be close to $119,000 for the administration. It would be a multi-year plan to get the police moved completely. Total updates and renovations would be over $200,000.

Due to the additional expenditures that will come out of the holdback, concerns about going forward were expressed among all members off the council. Councilman Bart Brown stated, “When you are in the real estate game, you’re in for the long game,” noting that he is not aware of another building coming available, but wanted his fellow council members to know that there will always be another option. Brown made a motion to decline moving forward on the purchase of the Nonpareil building at this time and Jensen seconded.

Jensen wanted to make a point that the with the city not moving forward with the purchase of the building, the city will continue to pay Bingham County $248,000 a year to cohabitate the Blackfoot Police Department at the Bingham County Courthouse.

Following some discussion about the total money being spent or saved with the purchase of the property, the motion would carry unanimously to forgo the purchase of the building.

The council dealt with the Fisher Street project at the beginning of the meeting. Councilman Chris Jensen had some issues with the current plans for the Fisher Street Project because it would leave a section of the roadway five feet narrower because of how the easements were established in the 1960s. Jensen drew a picture of what he means and expressed explicit concern about the safety of the students during the school year.

Jensen met with Carroll and the engineering firm on the project and suggested that they see if the property owners would be willing to sell five feet of their property to prevent this congestion. The Idaho Transportation Department said they will pay for a portion of the purchase of the property if the city can obtain the property. Jensen met with the residents in the area about the situation and explored the options with them, they expressed willingness to do so because they do not want to lose on street parking in the area and would like the curb, gutter, and sidewalk.

Jensen finalized his points by noting that Fisher is a heavily traveled road with school buses, large tractor trailers, and other large vehicles.

Carroll interjected after Jensen was finished, explaining that there may be a $10,000 fee for the reengineering of the project, but ITD may reimburse the cost, but it will not be for some time because of the date of the project being over a year out.

Jensen also wanted to make it clear that there is a conflict of interest because he owns property in the area, but according to the law, he is legal to vote because it is not a planning or zoning issue.

Councilwoman Jan Simpson asked about the timeframe, to which Jensen explained that ITD wants the quick-claim deed completed as soon as possible. A motion and a second was presented to go forward with the acquisition of the property, which passed unanimously.

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