(Idaho Falls, ID) – The Idaho Falls City Council approved the financing for construction for Idaho Falls’ first-ever police facility tonight on the land formerly occupied by the Idaho Falls Livestock Auction, commonly referred to as “the Stockyards.” The facility is expected to cost approximately $30 million dollars and will be funded by certificates of participation issued by the city.
“The city finance team worked very hard to present a viable financial option that did not increase property taxes and included money in the base budget to repay the bonds,” said Pam Alexander, Municipal Services Director for the City. “The process has truly been a team effort with city and outside consultant expertise.”
The approval comes following news that the City has been awarded an Aa2 issuer rating from Moody’s Investor Services with high marks for a “strong financial profile that is expected to strengthen in the near-term with health reserves and positive operations.” The City received an Aa3 rating for the city’s certificates of participation.
The City received the favorable ratings in part due to the fact that it has already identified and included up to $2 million dollars in funding in the annual budget to make the base payments on the certificates. Moody’s also added that the City’s “governance [was] a key driver of the initial rating incorporating management's focus on building reserves and implementing budget management and capital replacement policies.”
Certificates of participation were established as legal, viable finance tools by the Idaho Supreme Court in 2015. While fairly common in other states, certificates of participation have been increasingly used by other entities throughout Idaho to finance public projects. Certificates were used recently by Ada County to expand their jail facilities and in Chubbuck to finance their new city hall complex.
“The City of Idaho Falls and the Police Department have been working toward this for over two decades,” said Idaho Falls Police Chief Bryce Johnson. “To finally reach this point at this time is exciting. We are grateful for the support of the City Council and Mayor, City staff who have worked tirelessly on this effort, and members of the community who continue to support IFPD. This facility will be a great improvement to the city and an enormous aide in our efforts to serve the community and keep Idaho Falls safe for decades to come.”
Two different citizen committees in the last 10 years have recommended the construction of a dedicated police facility to the Idaho Falls City Council. The most recent recommendation in 2019 urged the City to begin construction of the new facility “as soon as possible and not risk further delays” to avoid rising construction costs and to provide adequate law enforcement services as the city grows.
“A proper law enforcement facility has been a need for decades,” said Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper. “The City Council and I believe it is what the IFPD needs to perform its duties in the most professional manner possible. It is what the community needs as well. It is long overdue.”
Prior to purchasing the Stockyard property for the project, the police department evaluated a number of vacant properties along with several existing buildings around the city. The department evaluated facilities including the old Deseret Industries building downtown, the vacant Shopko store and the old “Planet Doom” shopping center. The Stockyard property was ultimately selected based on a number of factors including the price, availability and favorable location to help revitalize the Northgate and 1st Street corridors.
"We all hope to never need the assistance of the department, but when we do I think the expectation of the available resources is far greater than the current reality,” said Chris Pelkola Lee, who served as chair of the most recent citizen’s committee. “I welcome the Council’s decision in their vote today not only to make this vision a reality but of the decision to reinvest in an area of town that will benefit from the capital infusion and will hopefully spur further nearby investment in the future."
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Media Note: For more information or to arrange and interview please contact City of Idaho Falls Public Information Officer Bud Cranor at 208-612-8306 or IFPD Public Information Officer Jessica Clements at 208-612-8655.