Idaho Falls Citizen Journalism

Leslie Shumate's picture


This cycle’s requests for Local Option Tax (LOT) funding totaled $107,284. The total of LOT monies available was $57,000 so according to Robin Watkins of the LOT Commission the commission members had to make some difficult decisions.

The commission’s allocation recommendations were announced at the September 6 meeting of the Salmon City Council and the council opted to discuss every allocation in detail.

Watkins first explained that the Lemhi County Fair Board was deemed ineligible for funding because it was requesting funds for an event which had already taken place. The Fair Board has been advised to submit an application for the 2018 fair in the Spring cycle of LOT allocations. 

The Sacajawea Center requested $3,800 to fund a regional advertising campaign in 2018. The LOT Commission recommended $3,000 be allocated. The council decided that even though the center is city owned and uses budgeted monies to operate, this particular request was specifically for advertising which is mentioned in the ordinance governing the LOT program. The council vote was five to one with Councilman Rob Jackson casting the one ‘no’ vote.

The City Swimming Pool requested $30,000 to go towards the $79,648 resurfacing project. An allocation of $30,000 would leave a little less than $20,000 owed. The Salmon Golf Course Association requested $13,566 for money to install metal siding on the Club House. The Commission recommended $3,500 be allocated with the suggestion that the association put that amount in savings and apply for more money during the first LOT cycle of 2018. 

During public comments earlier in the evening two residents urged the council to reconsider rearranging the overall allocations so that the Club House siding project could be done this fall. It was pointed out the building does belong to the city. The building’s appearance was called ‘embarrassing’ and not suitable to show in a proposed marketing campaign. 

Council discussion centered on whether LOT funds should be used for city owned properties such as the swimming pool and the golf course even though the pool is specifically mentioned in the LOT ordinance. The general feeling was that in the future LOT funds would be better spent on events rather than city owned facilities. It was also determined there is no mention of building maintenance in the lease agreement between the Golf Association and the city and that the subject is one which should be addressed. 

The final vote was a five to one approval of the $30,000 swimming pool allocation as recommended. Councilman Jim Bockelman cast the one ‘no’ vote. The Golf Association allocation of $3,500 was approved with five council votes. Bockelman abstained from voting because he is a member of the Salmon Valley Golf Association’s Board of Directors. 

There was quick approval of the recommendation to give the Salmon Hockey Association $15,000 for the restroom and snack shack renovation project. The association had requested $18,000. The councilmen all agreed that hockey has brought a lot of people to town at a time of year the local economy needs a boost. 

The Salmon Rotary Club had asked LOT for $4,640 for new Main Street snowflake decorations. The commission recommended an allocation of $4,500. City Clerk Mary Benton explained the old snowflake panels were purchased through the Urban Renewal program and have since deteriorated to the point of being a safety risk. She said using snowflakes rather than the previous Christmas decorations extend the length of display time. The council approved the allocation unanimously.

The Youth Employment Program has purchased a huge tent which is being used for numerous events such as bicycle races and marathons. The program now wants an event-tent support trailer. Watkins said YEP’s $12,630 funding application itemized several specific needs and one of them was for a $950 jack hammer which is large enough to drive tent stakes into the ground. The LOT Commission recommended $1,000 for the jack hammer and the council voted five to one in favor of approval. The ‘no’ vote was cast by Bockelman.

Bockelman commended the LOT Commission members for all the work it takes to make the allocation recommendations. Councilman Russ Chinske added his praise for the members and his trust in the scoring matrix point process which is in place. He added his hope that something can be worked out to resolve the golf association’s needs. Councilman Neal James recommended the Golf Association be invited to the September 13 Parks and Recreation Team meeting.

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