Wednesday, June 30, 2010

City of Kuna considering move to a new city hall

As first reported in last week's Kuna Melba News, the city of Kuna is considering moving city hall to an 8,000-square-foot building in the Lava Falls commercial complex across from Paul’s next to where Walgreens is building a new store.
The city currently rents space in the former Kuna Life Church building at 763 W. Avalon St., which is owned by J&M Sanitation owner Tim Gordon.
Kuna City Council members have been meeting behind closed doors the past couple of months to discuss “potential land acquisition.” The city will host a town hall style meeting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, July 21, to get feedback from residents about the potential move.
The city currently rents 8,700 square feet for city offices and the adjacent police substation, for which the Ada County Sheriff’s Office pays and partially passes along the cost to the city through the city’s contract with the sheriff’s office.
The total rental cost per month to occupy the current City Hall space, including the police substation, is $8,247 for 8,700 square feet.
Of that total amount, the city pays $7,113 and the sheriff’s office pays $1,134.
City: Directly pays $5,412.12 per month for approximately 5,648 square feet or $.96 per sq. foot per month, which equals $11.50 per square foot annually.
Sheriff: Directly pays $2,835 per month for approximately 3,075 square feet or $.92 per sq. foot per month, which equals $11.06 per square foot annually.
Total: $8,247.12 per month for approximately 8,723 sq. feet or $.95 per square foot per month, which equals $11.35 per square foot annually.
Of the Sheriff’s portion, the City pays 60 percent indirectly through its contract with Ada County. That is 60 percent of $2,835, which equals $1,701 for 60 percent of 3,075 square feet, or 1,845 sq. feet.
This amounts to $.92 per sq. foot per month or $11.06 per sq. foot annually. Thus, the City’s overall outflow is $7,113.12 per month for approximately 7,493 sq. feet or $.95 per sq. foot per month, which equals $11.39 per sq. foot annually.
That’s the total cost. Utilities, landscaping, insurance, maintenance and property taxes are all included in that price.
Questions that still remain to be answered:
• What is the asking price for the new building to buy outright?
• If the city were to rent or lease, what would the monthly rent be at the new building?
• If the city were to choose a lease to buy option, what would the monthly installment be toward purchase?
• What would tenant improvements cost at the new building?
• Would the city pay property taxes, landscaping, maintenance and utilities at the new building in addition to the monthly rent?
Mike Young, who owns the potential new building in Lava Falls, said he couldn’t talk about the details because it’s all subject to negotiation.
Similarly, still unanswered is whether the city would have to pay for tenant improvements at the new building and, if so, how much those would cost.
City planning director Steve Hasson also declined to answer questions about how much it would cost to move to the new building because the city is negotiating with both sides.
Hasson did say, though, that whether the city stays where it is or moves to the new building, the city will be getting a better deal in the end.
The city now has a survey posted on its website,, asking residents to weigh in on moving city hall.
Current City Hall owner Tim Gordon said that he has let the city know that he is willing to reduce the rent next year.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Kuna Melba News has seen a flurry of changes in three years

One of the things I disliked about my last job at a large daily metro newspaper was the glacial pace of change. I was surrounded by some of the most talented copy editors, page designers, line editors, photographers and reporters, but their ability to make changes was severely hindered by a culture of focus groups and committees.
One of the things I like about my current job is my ability to quickly make changes that I think will improve the newspaper.
It has been 44 months since Nicola and I bought the Kuna Melba News, and in that time, we have added 21 new features to the paper — that’s one new idea just about every two months. Heck, it would take me two months just to convene a committee at my last job.
Here’s a list of the new things we’ve added to the Kuna Melba News in the past three-and-a-half years: News of Neighbors page, Community Calendar page, The Ricks Report, This is the Life column, Kitchen Table Politics column, Editor’s Notebook, History page, Library page, Recipe of the Week, crossword puzzle, sudoku, Speaking of Faith column, redesigned service directory, weekly building permits, weekly real estate transactions, weekly online poll, weather, business of the month, business spotlight, high school sports coverage and Newspaper Fun children’s activity page.

You can read more about these and other changes in my Editor's Notebook in this week's Kuna Melba News.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Freedom Fitness Center in Kuna cuts ribbon on new location

Freedom Fitness Center in Kuna officially moved into its new digs on Wednesday, with a Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting ceremony, booths, food, jumphouses and a live music concert in the parking lot in front of their new space at 693 E. Wythe Creek Court.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Kuna City Council members should pay for security at Kuna Days

Kuna City Council members on Tuesday are scheduled to decide on a request from Kuna Days for $3,200 to pay for added police services during the two-day event.
The Ada County Sheriff’s Office is charging entities for the overtime costs of police officers during special events, such as Kuna Days.
Hoss Grigg, who was last year’s Kuna Days chairman, told City Council members last month that Kuna Days, itself, could be in jeopardy without any help from the city this year.
The city in the past has paid as much as $10,000 from city coffers to help defray the costs of Kuna Days, primarily for the fireworks show. But budget woes have made the city tight with a buck, cutting all funding to such organizations as The Zone after-school program, Kuna Days and the Kuna Chamber of Commerce.
To make matters worse, the city treasurer disclosed last month that an anticipated agreement with Idaho Power for a franchise fee that was expected to generate about $100,000 in revenue for the city is not working out. So City Council members cut their contingency fund down to $39,000 for the year, a precariously low amount.
Still, the city should pony up the relatively small amount of money for an event that benefits the city as a whole. It’s an event that deserves everyone’s support — including the City Council’s.

What do you think? Post an opinion below and vote in our online poll at

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Looks like ACHD will be pushing roundabouts

The Ada County Highway District appears ready to move ahead with plans for more traffic roundabouts in the county.
ACHD representatives made a presentation to Kuna City Council members last week detailing a draft policy and guidelines for roundabouts that they hope to have approved by ACHD commission members as early as this summer.
Roundabouts are intersection traffic devices in which drivers enter a traffic circle by way of yielding to traffic, if any, already in the circle. Drivers can then exit the circle in any number of directions without stopping. A roundabout is used as an alternative to stop signs or traffic signals.
Terry Little, ACHD traffic services manager, told council members that safety, relieving congestion, reducing delays and air pollution and improving aesthetics are benefits of roundabouts over four-way stops and signalized intersections.
While public attitude is generally very negative toward roundabouts before a roundabout is installed, the public’s attitude generally turns just the opposite once a roundabout is put in, Little said.

You can read more of this in my Editor's Notebook in this week's Kuna Melba News.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Next year, Kuna school board should go over budget line by line

Right after Kuna school board members voted unanimously last month to accept a series of cuts and revenue-generating measures for next year’s budget, a couple of audience members let out an enthusiastic, “whoooo!” putting a positive exclamation point on a difficult subject.
In many ways, it was fitting, as it seemed we all let out a sigh of relief at the apparent end of a difficult process of dealing with a shortfall of revenue from the state. The clouds did seem to part and it felt like a pall had been lifted from a painful weeks- long process.
The results seem fair. Everyone, it seems, bears a burden in the cost-cutting. Teachers will take a 4 percent pay cut in furlough days, some students will have to pay a very small fee to park at the high school, those participating in sports will have to come up with money to pay for travel to away games, a couple more administrators were cut and the superintendent and assistant superintendent took pay cuts in furlough days.
The pain seems to be spread around equitably and fairly.
With all that said, though, I would like to see the Kuna school board take a different approach to the budget next year. After all, I feel, it should be the school board members, not a budget reduction team, that sets and passes the yearly budget. And the school board members should have all of the information in front of them, not just a condensed version presented to them by the district administration.

You can read the rest of this opinion in this week's Editor's Notebook in the Kuna Melba News.