Meridian Mayor Robert Simison stood in front of a crowd at the Galaxy Event Center in Wahooz to deliver his second State of the City address.
Simison seemed confident about Meridian’s growing future. He said in a poll they found residents believed the city’s services were “valued and appreciated.”
“The state of Meridian is strong,” he said. “Some might say a little too loudly, as we see new residents and businesses choosing to take root in our community. But this happens by design.
Simison says his top three priorities are transport, growth and education and noted that these had not changed since he first campaigned for mayor.
During his remarks, Simison called the Linder Rd. The overpass, which we told you about here, the “number one” transportation need. Fire stations, Amazon, FedEx, an elementary school and several other developments would be easier to access via the overpass, he said.
“The viaduct is absolutely necessary, just like in the past, for public safety and to reduce congestion,” he said.[Funding for new north-south ‘freeway’ connecting with I-84 added, project set for next year]
Simison spoke about the importance of upgrades to state highways such as the extension of Highway 16. He also noted the cost of these large projects through STAR funding, but said the city needs to be “innovative. To solve the problems of financing transport.
“The biggest proposed investment is the extension of Highway 16 between Chinden and I-84,” said Simison. “When completed, Highway 16 will provide excellent access to the region and beyond, while reducing traffic on Ten Mile. “
Meridian is growing rapidly, with major new developments appearing throughout the city. And last year, Meridian identified the Northeast and Southeast regions as priority growth areas in which services need to be invested. And Simison says they “do exactly that”.
Simison asked city council to work with him to set up additional fire and police stations in these areas to track growth and help with response times. The fire department reported an average response time of 6:35 a.m., however, the city’s target is five minutes.
“We cannot ask residents to face reduced services due to growth,” he said. where people live, will help us meet our commitment to the community.
More Growth includes Discovery Park moving into phase two of its plans, two additional library locations, a charter school and an elementary school west of Ada.
Simison drew attention to the property tax bill which will primarily affect government spending and limit growth. This prompted the town of Caldwell to declare a moratorium on growth, but Simison said Meridian “should be able to deliver our municipal services as planned.”
“The bill signed by the governor will not really provide any significant tax relief,” Simison said. “It does however continue with the real problem, which is the shifting of property taxes because of the limitations this bill puts on new construction income.” It is likely that the city will have to claim a portion of the allowable property tax increase. Because now, growth does not pay for itself.
He once again stressed how important he thinks it is for growth to pay off when he talks about building more schools.[Meridian hopes for another major project in rapidly changing downtown area]
“Ultimately, the legislature must take responsibility for its constitutional education requirements,” he said. “They can do this by providing government funding and tools so that growth can help pay for new facilities, instead of just relying on bonds, which are part of the property tax burden.”
Simison took another shot at state lawmakers for the City Council Elections Bill. The bill would oblige cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants to elect members of city council by district. The new law was born in the 2020 session, but Boise and Meridian hoped to make changes during the 2021 session. Ultimately, the 2021 bill died.
“Last year’s bill lacked guidance on implementation, so we worked with the legislature to get advice,” he said. “In the end, the fix was hijacked and the implementation issues still exist.”
This year the city has three election council seats and it will run as usual. But from 2023, council members will be elected by the districts.
Although Simison spoke optimistically in his remarks, he listed the challenges the city is and is facing. This included skyrocketing residential housing prices, searching for employees, and businesses having difficulty finding property.
“So how do we go? Well, it starts with more opportunities, ”he said. “Despite our strong commercial activity last year, we have to prepare for additional needs. One way to do this is to create new neighborhoods for urban renewal.
Simison concluded by talking about the division and the hardships the pandemic has created, but says he “believes in Meridian.”
“Let’s get back to talking, finding solutions and supporting each other, and together we can all believe in Meridian,” he said.