Public Hearing for 2015-2016 Fiscal Year Budget & Fee Schedule

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho: The public is invited to the 2015-2016 Fiscal Year Budget and Fee Schedule public hearing on Thursday, Sept. 3 at 7:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers at the City Annex Building, 680 Park Avenue in Idaho Falls.

The final budget ordinance will be adopted at a City Council work session on Sept. 8 at 3 p.m. in Council Chambers.

The preliminary budget packet will be available for review on Tuesday, Sept. 1 by clicking on the budget information link on the home page of the city’s website or by visiting the city clerk’s office inside City Hall, 308 Constitution Way.

For those who cannot attend the meeting, live video streaming and archiving will be available on the city’s website. The public is also invited to contact City Council members prior to the meeting for questions or concerns. Their contact information can be found on the city’s website or by contacting the city clerk’s office at (208) 612-8415.

The Municipal Services Director, Craig Rockwood and/or City Controller, Thane Sparks are also available to answer questions regarding the budget by calling (208) 612-8249 or (208) 612-8245.

Media Note: For additional information or to schedule an interview with city staff, contact City of Idaho Falls Public Information Officer, Kerry McCullough at (208) 821-6321.

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About Idaho Falls: Situated along the Snake River at the western edge of the world famous Rocky Mountains, Idaho Falls has all the features of big city living, but still embraces a small town charm. Our skyline consists of the majestic Teton Mountain Range, and in our backyard is the world’s most famous park – Yellowstone. As the regional center for healthcare, shopping, and entertainment, Idaho Falls is attractive to small and large businesses alike and consistently finds itself listed in the top ten rankings of many prestigious magazines, newspapers and professional community research publications.

Phase I Auto-Load Service Begins Monday

Idaho Falls, ID – The city of Idaho Falls Sanitation Division would like to remind those residents included in the Phase I Residential Refuse Collection Program that automated services will begin Monday, Aug. 31.

The city-supplied refuse containers should be placed curbside on the regularly scheduled day of pickup by 7:00 a.m. with the wheels toward the curb and all refuse contained within the 95 gallon container.

A map of subdivisions and addresses included in the Phase I area can be accessed by going to the home page of the city’s website or by calling the Sanitation Division at (208) 612-8491.

For questions or concerns regarding the automated service, contact the Sanitation Division at (208) 612-8491.

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About Idaho Falls:  Situated along the Snake River at the western edge of the world famous Rocky Mountains, Idaho Falls has all the features of big city living, but still embraces a small town charm. Our skyline consists of the majestic Teton Mountain Range, and in our backyard is the world’s most famous park – Yellowstone. As the regional center for healthcare, shopping, and entertainment, Idaho Falls is attractive to small and large businesses alike and consistently finds itself listed in the top ten rankings of many prestigious magazines, newspapers and professional community research publications.  Learn more at http://www.idahofallsidaho.gov/

Lions, and Tigers, and Brews… Oh My!

Idaho Falls, ID – Enjoy an evening at the zoo when the animals are active and the beer is cold! The fourth annual Zoo Brew will be held Friday, Sept. 11 from 5:00-9:00 p.m. at the Idaho Falls Zoo at Tautphaus Park.

Food will be available from the Kookaburra Kafe, Republic and Diabla’s Kitchen. Guests will also enjoy live music and wine tasting stations. Local and national breweries include Idaho Brewing, Madison River, Butch’s Brew, Laughing Dog, Payette Brewing, Sockeye Brewing, Stone Brewing and many more!

A limited number of tickets are available so participants are encouraged to buy in advance. Tickets are $25 in advance and online, and $30 at the door. Designated drivers get in for only $7.50.

Attendees MUST be 21 years old or older and MUST show identification upon arrive, per city policy. All proceeds go to the Tautphaus Park Zoological Society to support the “Best little zoo in the west.”

Tickets are available in advance at the zoo gift shop, MarCellars, Idaho Brewing, BlackRock, Firehouse Grill or online at www.mbbf.org/tickets.

The last admission is at 8:30 p.m.

Media Note: For additional information or to schedule an interview with zoo staff, contact Kerry McCullough, Public Information Officer at (208) 612-8122.

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About Idaho Falls: Situated along the Snake River at the western edge of the world famous Rocky Mountains, Idaho Falls has all the features of big city living, but still embraces a small town charm. Our skyline consists of the majestic Teton Mountain Range, and in our backyard is the world’s most famous park – Yellowstone. As the regional center for healthcare, shopping, and entertainment, Idaho Falls is attractive to small and large businesses alike and consistently finds itself listed in the top ten rankings of many prestigious magazines, newspapers and professional community research publications. Visit us online!

About Idaho Falls Zoo at Tautphaus Park Zoo: The Idaho Falls Zoo at Tautphaus Park, founded in 1935, is dedicated to preserving wildlife and educating and entertaining zoo guests. Located in Tautphaus Park off South Blvd, the zoo is home to over 350 animals of 120 plus different species exhibited in a variety of naturalistic displays. For more information, visit the zoo online.

Improving Safety at School Crossing Zones

City installs new HAWK pedestrian beacons on Pancheri Drive 

Idaho Falls, ID – The city of Idaho Falls Public Works Department has installed a series of three HAWK (High-intensity Activated crossWalK) pedestrian beacons on Pancheri Drive to better accommodate pedestrian traffic between Eagle Rock Junior High School and Skyline High School.

The HAWK beacon is a new type of pedestrian crossing beacon that has proven in several states to increase safety for pedestrians by grabbing the attention of motorists.

“The HAWK beacons are the first to be installed in Bonneville County so it’s important that we educate the public on how to use them, especially in light of school starting August 31,” states City of Idaho Falls Public Information Officer, Kerry McCullough.

While the HAWK beacon looks fairly similar to a traditional signalized pedestrian crossing, it functions a bit differently. When not in use, it will remain dark. The beacon goes through a sequence of five movements after a pedestrian pushes the button:

  1. The HAWK beacon begins flashing yellow to indicate to drivers someone will be using the crosswalk.
  2. It then goes to solid yellow like a typical traffic signal, advising drivers to stop if safe to do so.
  3. The beacon then turns solid red, requiring drivers to stop at the stop line.
  4. Finally, the beacon goes to the flashing red, letting drivers know that after coming to a complete stop, they can proceed with caution if the way is clear—the same movement they would make at any other flashing-red signal or beacon.
  5. The beacon then returns to a dark state.

The three beacons were part of the $3.5 million Pancheri Drive Expansion Project which also included widening the road to five lanes with curb, gutter, sidewalk and landscaping. Construction on the project began on June 8.

A crossing guard will be located at Pancheri Drive & Grizzly Avenue throughout the school year, and motorists are reminded to use caution and slow down to 20 mph in school zones.

Barring unforeseen conditions, construction on the remaining section of Pancheri Drive, from the East Lateral Canal to Bellin Road, will be complete in mid-October. The speed limit in construction zones is 25 mph.

The city of Idaho Falls and Idaho Transportation Department maintain all traffic and pedestrian signals in the city. If you have questions about the HAWK Pedestrian Beacon or other traffic-related questions, call the city at (208) 612-6250 or ITD at (208) 334-8000.

The HAWK beacon instructional brochure is also posted on the home page of the city’s website.

Media Note: For additional information or to schedule an interview with city staff, contact Kerry McCullough, public information officer at (208) 821-6321.

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About Idaho Falls:  Situated along the Snake River at the western edge of the world famous Rocky Mountains, Idaho Falls has all the features of big city living, but still embraces a small town charm. Our skyline consists of the majestic Teton Mountain Range, and in our backyard is the world’s most famous park – Yellowstone. As the regional center for healthcare, shopping, and entertainment, Idaho Falls is attractive to small and large businesses alike and consistently finds itself listed in the top ten rankings of many prestigious magazines, newspapers and professional community research publications.  Learn more at http://www.idahofallsidaho.gov/

Construction Notice – Parking Restrictions on Woodruff Avenue

Idaho Falls, ID –TMC Contractors, Inc. will commence chip sealing Woodruff Avenue from Caribou Street to Kearney Street on Saturday, August 29.

Lane closures will begin at 7 a.m. and be completed by 5 p.m.

Street parking will be prohibited on the side streets including Kearney Street and Garfield Streets within 100ft of Woodruff Avenue. Vehicles on these side streets will need to be removed or they will be towed away at the owner’s expense.

Please watch for equipment and workers, follow all traffic signs and flaggers, and reduce speeds to posted limits.

For questions, contact TMC at (208) 529-9895. For information on all city of Idaho Falls construction projects, see website.

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About Idaho Falls:  Situated along the Snake River at the western edge of the world famous Rocky Mountains, Idaho Falls has all the features of big city living, but still embraces a small town charm. Our skyline consists of the majestic Teton Mountain Range, and in our backyard is the world’s most famous park – Yellowstone. As the regional center for healthcare, shopping, and entertainment, Idaho Falls is attractive to small and large businesses alike and consistently finds itself listed in the top ten rankings of many prestigious magazines, newspapers and professional community research publications.  Learn more at http://www.idahofallsidaho.gov/

West Side Greenbelt River Walk Construction

Idaho Falls, ID – Construction is scheduled to begin this week on one of Idaho Falls’ most popular recreational destinations – the west side of the Greenbelt River Walk, between the Broadway Bridge and Hwy 20.

Idaho Falls Power and DePatco Inc., will begin utility work on Wed., Aug. 26. Upon completion of utility work, crews will begin reconstructing the path.

The project includes widening of the river walk path to better accommodate existing high volume users and different user types such as bicyclists, children, walkers and business and hotel patrons. Landscaping and pedestrian crossings to the hotels and services along River Parkway are also part of the plan.

The project will result in a continuous 12-16ft wide path rather than the existing narrow 6ft asphalt and concrete sections.

Traffic impacts along River Parkway include intermittent lane closures from Broadway Street to the Falls overlook. Periodic closures of the one-way section of River Parkway north of the Driftwood Inn to Hwy 20 will be necessary during the project.

Residents and visitors are encouraged to use the sidewalks on the west side of River Parkway or use other sections of the river walk on the east side of the river or south of the Broadway Bridge.

The total project cost is $865k with $350k funded by a grant reimbursement from the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD), $400k allocated from the Redevelopment Agency and a 7 percent grant match from the city of Idaho Falls.

“The Transportation Alternative Program grant project provided us with ‘bonus funding’ to use for this project,” explains Assistant Public Works Director, Chris Canfield. “ITD actually programmed this project to be done next year, but because of available funding and the great cooperation between ITD, the Redevelopment Agency, BMPO and city departments, we are able to move forward with the project this fall,” adds Canfield.

In a 2013 Parks & Recreation survey, more than 1,500 residents in Idaho Falls, Ammon, Ucon and Iona listed redesign of the greenbelt path as a number one priority. The improvements also fall in line with the Connecting Our Community area-wide plan to make improvements in the pedestrian and bicycle trails and paths throughout the greater Idaho Falls area.

“Thanks to the support of numerous funding partners and with the assistance from several city departments, including Public Works and Idaho Falls Power, we are excited to begin what we hope will be the first of many priority trail projects in the Idaho Falls area,” states Greg A. Weitzel, parks and recreation director. “This section of greenbelt is the oldest and most used by residents and visitors alike. The redesign will greatly benefit all users by making the path safer and easier to access,” adds Weitzel.

Click link for additional information about Connecting Our Community. Media note: For additional information or to schedule an interview with city staff, contact Kerry McCullough, public information officer at (208) 821-6321.

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About Idaho Falls:  Situated along the Snake River at the western edge of the world famous Rocky Mountains, Idaho Falls has all the features of big city living, but still embraces a small town charm. Our skyline consists of the majestic Teton Mountain Range, and in our backyard is the world’s most famous park – Yellowstone. As the regional center for healthcare, shopping, and entertainment, Idaho Falls is attractive to small and large businesses alike and consistently finds itself listed in the top ten rankings of many prestigious magazines, newspapers and professional community research publications.  Learn more at http://www.idahofallsidaho.gov/

Emergency Alert Testing Scheduled for Tomorrow

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho: Bonneville County Emergency Management will be conducting a test of the emergency alert system sirens throughout Idaho Falls and Ammon on Wednesday, Aug. 26 between 10:00-10:30 a.m. Each siren will sound for approximately 40 seconds.

This is ONLY a test. There is no need to call emergency services with this activation. In the event the emergency alert sirens are used in a real event, you should tune in to your local news source for information and instructions regarding the disaster and/or emergency that may be occurring.

The sirens are an outdoor warning system intended to prompt those who may not be near a radio, television or other news source during a real emergency to seek out the reason(s) for the siren activation.

For additional information contact Tom Lenderink, Director, Office of Emergency Management, Bonneville County Emergency Management at (208) 529-1223 or tlenderink@co.bonneville.id.us.

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About Idaho Falls: Situated along the Snake River at the western edge of the world famous Rocky Mountains, Idaho Falls has all the features of big city living, but still embraces a small town charm. Our skyline consists of the majestic Teton Mountain Range, and in our backyard is the world’s most famous park – Yellowstone.at

As the regional center for healthcare, shopping, and entertainment, Idaho Falls is attractive to small and large businesses alike and consistently finds itself listed in the top ten rankings of many prestigious magazines, newspapers and professional community research publications.

About Bonneville County Emergency Management: Manmade or natural, emergencies or disasters can strike at any time. The Office of Emergency Management provides leadership, planning, education and resources to protect lives, property, and the environment in the event an emergency or disaster was to strike Bonneville County. Emergency Management works with County departments, local governments, volunteer organizations and the private sector in and around Bonneville County to develop disaster preparedness plans, and provide training and exercise activities.

Community Appreciation Day at the Idaho Falls Zoo at Tautphaus Park

Idaho Falls, ID – Saturday, Aug. 29 is Community Appreciation Day at Idaho Falls Zoo at Tautphaus Park. Admission for the day is only one can of food per person to be donated to the Idaho Falls Food Bank or $1 per person to go toward the zoo’s fund for a new education complex.

Community Appreciation Day is the zoo’s way of saying thank you to the community for all the tremendous support throughout the year while helping out our local food bank. Funds can also be donated to the zoo’s future education complex or, if guests are feeling generous, it’s an opportunity to support both!” says Linda Beard, interim zoo superintendent.

Zoo hours are 9 a.m.-6 p.m. with last admission at 5 p.m.

For more information about zoo programs, classes or registration, visit the Idaho Falls Zoo online or contact the Education Department at (208) 612-8418 or via email at zooeducation@idahofallszoo.org. Guests are also invited to visit our staff at the gift shop, open daily from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Media Note: For additional information or to schedule an interview with zoo staff, contact Kerry McCullough, Public Information Officer at (208) 612-8122.

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About Idaho Falls: Situated along the Snake River at the western edge of the world famous Rocky Mountains, Idaho Falls has all the features of big city living, but still embraces a small town charm. Our skyline consists of the majestic Teton Mountain Range, and in our backyard is the world’s most famous park – Yellowstone. As the regional center for healthcare, shopping, and entertainment, Idaho Falls is attractive to small and large businesses alike and consistently finds itself listed in the top ten rankings of many prestigious magazines, newspapers and professional community research publications. Visit us online!

About Idaho Falls Zoo at Tautphaus Park Zoo: The Idaho Falls Zoo at Tautphaus Park, founded in 1935, is dedicated to preserving wildlife and educating and entertaining zoo guests. Located in Tautphaus Park off South Blvd, the zoo is home to over 350 animals of 120 plus different species exhibited in a variety of naturalistic displays. For more information, visit the zoo online.

Wildfires Responsible for Thick Smoke Haze Over Idaho Falls

Idaho Falls, ID – Smoke from a series of sixteen large wildfires across the state are sending a thick haze over Idaho Falls and neighboring communities. Officials from the Idaho Falls Fire Department, public health and environmental quality are reminding residents to be aware of the conditions.

Local emergency dispatchers have received numerous calls over the past couple of days from worried residents. Firefighters have been dispatched into some areas for what was perceived as nuisance smoke from possible neighbors burning when, in fact, the smoke was from wildfires.

“We would like residents to not only be aware of the conditions but also encourage them to do their part to keep our community safe,” states Idaho Falls Fire Department Chief Dave Hanneman.

Action Steps for Around Your Home (National Fire Protection Association):

  • Clear leaves and other vegetative debris from roofs, gutters, porches and decks. This helps prevent embers from igniting your home.
  • Remove dead vegetation and other items from under your deck or porch, and within 10 feet of the house.
  • Screen in areas below patios and decks with wire mesh to prevent debris and combustible materials from accumulating.
  • Remove flammable materials (wood piles, propane tanks) within 30 feet of your home’s foundation and outbuildings, including garages and sheds. If it can catch fire, don’t let it touch your house, deck or porch.
  • Wildfire can spread to tree tops. Prune trees so the lowest branches are 6 to 10 feet from the ground.
  • Keep your lawn hydrated and maintained. If it is brown, cut it down to reduce fire intensity. Dry grass and shrubs are fuel for wildfire.
  • Don’t let debris and lawn cuttings linger. Dispose of these items quickly to reduce fuel for fire.
  • Inspect shingles or roof tiles. Replace or repair the shingles that are loose or missing to prevent ember penetration.
  • Cover exterior attic vents with metal wire mesh no larger than 1/8 inch to prevent sparks from entering the home.
  • Enclose eaves and screen soffit vents using

Resources:

Photo: Blackhawk Fire, Aug. 2013, courtesy of the Post Register.

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About Idaho Falls Fire Department: The mission of the Idaho Falls Fire Department is to protect the lives and property of the citizens and visitors of Idaho Falls by providing the highest possible levels of service through fire prevention, public education, fire suppression, emergency medical services and mitigation of the effects of natural and man-made disasters consistent with the resources provided as desired and dictated by the citizens and elected officials of the city of Idaho Falls.

The Idaho Falls Fire Department Fire Services division serves population of approximately 85,000 residents occupying approximately 250 square miles. The area includes the city of Idaho Falls and the Bonneville County Fire Protection District. The Idaho Falls Fire Department Emergency Medical Services (EMS) division serves a population of approximately 118,000 residents occupying approximately 1900 square miles. The area includes Bonneville County and portions of Bingham and Jefferson counties.

City Council Authorizes New Power Rate Structure

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho: Idaho Falls Power’s (IFP) new rate structure calls for the residential electric rate to effectively drop from 6.25 cents per kilowatt-hour used to 5.35 cents/kWh when a proposed Power Cost Adjustment (PCA) is factored into the equation – less than half the average electric rate in the US.

This decrease will be offset somewhat by an increase in the monthly customer service charge, from $10 to $15, to better capture “fixed costs” associated with keeping the city’s electric system ready when customers flip the switch.

At today’s work session, City Council authorized the staff to prepare the rates for the fee resolution that will be adopted as part of the budget. The average residential customer will see approximately a 6 percent reduction on their electric bill, from $72.50 to $68.50, although customer who use less than 300 kWh per month will see a slight increase.

The changes will be outlined at three open house meetings on Wednesday (Aug. 12) at IFP headquarters, 140 S. Capital Ave.

The meetings will be held at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Each will feature a presentation by Assistant General Manager Bear Prairie explaining how the utility sets its rates and explaining the proposal that went before the Council today.

The move to lower rates comes in the wake of a rate increase from the Bonneville Power Administration, the federal non-profit agency from which IFP buys most of its power.

Power purchases from BPA are the largest expenditure in IFP’s budget, roughly 41 percent of the budgeted expenses for the upcoming fiscal year. BPA’s rate increase will increase those expenses by approximately $2 million annually.

IFP is capable of absorbing those costs, though, because of a number of factors, most notably the retirement of the 30-year bonds used to construct three of the city’s four dams.

“Idaho Falls continues to benefit from the leadership of those who pursued development of our power plants more than 30 years ago. There was overwhelming community support for these facilities when the bonds were passed in 1978 and 1984. We will now start to see a return on those investments in the form of lower electric consumptive rates,” states Idaho Falls Power’s General Manager, Jackie Flowers. “Given all the upward pressure on electric rates, we are very fortunate to be decreasing rates. It really is unheard of in today’s environment.”

While the residential electric consumptive rate will drop to 5.78 cents per kilowatt-hour, the implementation of a power cost adjustment will fluctuate annually in order to more transparently pass along power supply costs. With the PCA, the residential rate for the coming fiscal year would drop to 5.35 cents/kWh.

The PCA will be a new line item on the bill and will be adjusted annually to reflect the previous year’s power supply costs. In good water years, the PCA may lead to a reduction in electric bills. In bad water years, the PCA may lead to an increase in electric bills.

As mentioned, this proposed decrease would be offset by an increase in the monthly customer service charge, from $10 to $15, to better capture “fixed costs” associated with keeping the city’s electric system ready to serve should the customer decide to flip the switch. The cost of service model used to develop the proposed rate plan actually calls for the monthly customer service charge to be $18.

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About Idaho Falls: Situated along the Snake River at the western edge of the world famous Rocky Mountains, Idaho Falls has all the features of big city living, but still embraces a small town charm. Our skyline consists of the majestic Teton Mountain Range, and in our backyard is the world’s most famous park – Yellowstone. As the regional center for healthcare, shopping, and entertainment, Idaho Falls is attractive to small and large businesses alike and consistently finds itself listed in the top ten rankings of many prestigious magazines, newspapers and professional community research publications. Learn more at http://www.idahofallsidaho.gov/.