Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Kuna City Council should be doing more talking and more cutting in the budget process

Kuna City Council members should be working harder to come up with some cost savings in next year’s city budget in an effort to avoid a property tax hike. They should also be working harder to get rid of a streetlight fee that was passed earlier this year as an emergency measure.
Over the past several budget workshops that I’ve witnessed, City Council members aren’t doing much questioning and they’re not doing much discussing about the budget. They’ve been receiving reports from department heads, but from what I have observed, they haven’t really been talking about or considering cost-cutting measures or looking at keeping property taxes flat.
For example, council members received a report from Lt. Kody Aldrich, Kuna’s police chief, on a $1.24 million contract with the Ada County Sheriff’s Office for police services, a basically flat budget from the current year. But no one asked him about cutting the budget, perhaps doing with one less deputy or cutting elsewhere in the budget. I’m not saying that would be a wise idea, but let’s at least explore the possibility.
These are difficult economic times, and many of our households are down to one income or even worse, unemployment, or a lesser-paying job, or making ends meet with a couple of part-time jobs. The city should be doing all it can to lessen the burden on its residents in times like these, not raising property taxes.
Just one example is a $33,500 line item for park capital expenditures, which include $8,000 for new trees, $10,500 for a new service mule and $15,000 for a council-designated project. Those should all be eliminated.
I’m certain there are more areas that can be examined. City Council members, in my estimation, should be doing a lot more talking — and a lot more cutting.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Bravo to Ted Mason for Kuna Family Movie Night

In case you missed the first free Kuna Family Movie Night in the Park last Friday, it was one heck of a great community event. About 450 people showed up for the event in the Kuna city park. There was live music from the Dan Sevy Band, and the movie started around 9:30, just as the sun was setting and the temperatures fell to tolerable levels.
All around, it was a great family atmosphere. People were hanging out on the lawn, spread out on picnic blankets and lawn chairs, visiting with their neighbors and families, children darting around, teens milling about. Food vendors were doing a brisk business, from what I could tell, but people also brought their own popcorn and drinks to enjoy during the movie. The event was completely 100 percent free to attendees — a great thing considering these difficult economic times. I know some folks have fallen on tough times, and it’s a great thing to be able to provide a fun family event like this at completely no cost to those in attendance. No hat was passed around, no one was asked to make a donation.
But as we all know, nothing comes for free. Friday’s inaugural Kuna Family Movie Night in the Park was hosted by Ted Mason Signature Homes.
He’s excited to be building a community in Kuna, and he’s excited to be a part of the Kuna community.
While many have talked about starting a movie night in Kuna, Ted actually went ahead and did it. He said there’s a movie night in Boise and in other Treasure Valley cities, so why not Kuna?
Turns out that the cost of putting on a movie night was perhaps a little more expensive than expected. I’m happy to report that many Kuna businesses have stepped up and helped defray some of the costs of the movie night.
Among the Kuna business sponsors: the Kuna Melba News, Freedom Fitness, the Kuna Farmers Market, Kids Independent Day School, Kuna Dental, El Gallo Giro, J&M Sanitation, Leffler’s Uptown Bistro and Treasure Valley Gift Shoppe.
Even with these business sponsors, Ted Mason is still spending a good amount of money out of his own pocket to make the movie night happen. What I’d like to see and what I urge every business in Kuna to do is to put up some money toward sponsoring the Movie Night.
Perhaps some day, the city of Kuna will provide amenities like Movie Night, but until then, let’s show everyone that the Kuna business community can step up and provide a terrific family event.
You don’t have to be a big spender. If enough businesses give just $25 or $50 or even $100, the whole event can get paid for.
The next movie night is Saturday, Aug. 15, with Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (the 1971 version with Gene Wilder). After that is Friday, Sept. 11. If you’re a local business and you think you can swing $25 or $50 next month and September, call Barbara Johncox at 407-0759 to become a sponsor.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ignoring state law is not a good idea

Idaho sure does have some silly laws.
Take, for example, Title 39, Chapter 26, otherwise known as the Fireworks Act of 1997.
Basically, in the state of Idaho, people can set off only “nonaerial common fireworks,” which means “any fireworks such as ground spinners, fountains, sparklers, smoke devices or snakes designed to remain on or near the ground and not to travel outside a 15-foot diameter circle or emit sparks or other burning material which land outside a 20-foot diameter circle or above a height of 20 feet. Nonaerial common fireworks do not include firecrackers, jumping jacks or similar products.”
Anything else is prohibited.
Ha, good one. For those who live in Kuna, you know what a joke this law is. The sky over Kuna on the Fourth of July is lit up “like a war zone,” as one fire official put it to me.
Kuna police responded to only 16 complaints of illegal fireworks this year, which strikes me as a low number, as I would estimate five or six aerial displays in my neighborhood alone. People don’t call the police any more because they know the police won’t do anything about it.
Of those 16 complaints, Kuna police issued zero citations — again, for at least the past three years running. Violating this state law is a misdemeanor, so it’s not like Kuna police don’t have the authority to write tickets.
If our police officers feel that the Fireworks Act of 1997 is not important enough to enforce, then please lobby one of our state legislators and get the law repealed. If there’s no need for the law and it’s not really protecting anyone, then by all means, prove it and get this silly law off our books and out of our great state of Idaho

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Big, big news for the Kuna Melba News

This morning, we received some very big and exciting news concerning the Kuna Melba News. We found out today that we won six awards from the 2009 National Newspaper Association's Better Newspaper Contest, including a first place for best feature story. This comes just a couple of months after we won seven awards from the Idaho Press Club, which is a statewide organization. To know that we won awards on a national level, as well, is extremely gratifying. We'll have details in next week's issue and we'll post them on our web site too.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Let your voice be heard on the Kuna city budget

If anyone tells you that they predicted the budget woes that the city of Kuna went through the past year, ask that person how many budget hearings they went to last year. In fact, if anyone tells you they have all the answers to any of the city’s problems, ask them what they did about it — really did about it. Sitting around the coffee shop expounding on their wisdom doesn’t count.
As I’ve written before, democracy doesn’t reside at the end of the bar bellyaching about some stupid decision the city made. Democracy resides in the place where those decisions get made.
Well, here’s your chance. The city of Kuna will be going into a series of budget hearings over the next few weeks to hammer out the 2009-10 budget, which begins in October. You don’t have to go to all of the hearings. Maybe just pick one or two.
Check out the full schedule in this week's Kuna Melba News. If you can't make it to the hearings but still want to be heard, send me a letter to the editor. Our city officials will see it and take it into consideration.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The world would be a better place if everyone just read their local newspaper

The world would be a better place if everyone read their local newspaper. I firmly believe this. I suppose I’d be in the wrong business if I didn’t believe in it passionately. There are so many things in your local newspaper that you need to know. Someone called us up last month, asking if there had been an election in the city of Kuna. We informed him that there was a Kuna school district election on a two-year, $1.1 million per year supplemental levy to make up for a projected shortfall in funding from the state. The gentleman who called said he thought the district was trying to keep the election a secret so that no one would know about it. We had to point out that it had been in the Kuna Melba News nearly a dozen times and was on the front page as the lead story four times before the election. To the gentleman’s great credit, he signed up for a subscription so he could be more informed.
What I ask of you, our loyal readers, is to help us spread the word. Tell your neighbors about the Kuna Melba News, tell your friends. Let them know all of the important stories that they need to read in the newspaper. When they say they knew nothing about the supplemental levy or the upcoming City Council election, tell them they should subscribe to the Kuna Melba News.
You’ll be helping to make the world a better place.