April 19, 2015      46.0°F (7.8°C) | Fair
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City of Meridian Blogs

It's Time to Unplug!

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By Mayor Tammy


Turn off the TV, computers, portable games, tablets and other screens used for entertainment in your household! It's time for your family to celebrate the City’s fourth annual Unplug and Be Outside Week. During the week of April 20 – 25, the Meridian Parks and Recreation Department is offering free activities, workshops and events to inspire and empower families to get off the couch and get active.


This annual celebration is intended to educate families about the negative effects of too much “screen time” and challenge them to explore the endless opportunities for screen-free fun and relaxation.  Over the past 30 years, the obesity rate in children 6-11 years old has quadrupled and researchers say there’s a connection between the number of hours spent in front of a television and childhood obesity.  The average American child spends more than 30 hours a week in front of a screen (TV, computer, and video games). 


That’s why the City has put together a great week full of diverse activities for the whole family such as tennis, golf, fishing, martial arts, dance clinics, to more unique offerings like a GPS scavenger hunt, gardening classes, family yoga, and theatre workshops. The Boys and Girls Club and Meridian Library will also be hosting events.


One of the highlights of the week is the Family Tennis Fair and Ribbon Cutting that will take place on Friday, April 24 from 4:30pm – 7:30pm at Settlers Park. We will be officially cutting the ribbon to commemorate the new complex at 5:30pm during that fair.


To learn more and view the complete schedule for this year’s Unplug and Be Outside Week, visit our website: www.meridiancity.org/unplug/.  It’s time to get off the couch!  Be Outside!  Be Active!  And Play!  I’ll see you out and about enjoying all the outdoor fun that Meridian has to offer next week!

Join Us for Do The Right

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On April 8 we are launching Do The Right here in Meridian – one day to start a movement of compassion by encouraging residents to do something kind for the person to their right - neighbors, family members, coworkers, or classmates. With bullying and other negativity so prevalent in today’s culture, we are on a mission to encourage people to put a smile on the face of someone else with a simple note, gift, or act of service. 


The City was moved to do something to spur a movement of compassion and kindness after discussing bullying and teen suicide with our Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council.  It is something that definitely affects teens in our community and adults as well. In the fall, we lost a community advocate to suicide and his death certainly affected those of us in the Mayor’s office who knew him. I couldn’t help but think – what if someone had said something nice to him or left him a nice note? What if…


That’s why we are launching Do The Right – because you never know how one act of kindness can change someone’s life. We live in a giving and compassionate community and we want to keep it that way. This world is full of criticism and negativity and it’s time to focus on the positive! 


Since we first announced our idea, it has been thrilling to see the overwhelming response from the community to help get the word out about his event. The West Ada School District is getting schools involved. The District plans to distribute 'post it' notes, so students can write kind messages to one another. Ben’s Bells, also known as 'Be Kind Idaho' will be spreading the word by hanging 150 bells around town to honor kindness. Kathy Chambers with State Farm has stepped in with a gracious donation to help us purchase special #DoTheRight stickers to hand out community-wide to people participating in Do The Right day. Other businesses helping get the word out include the Meridian Chamber of Commerce, Dutch Bros., The Village at Meridian and the Meridian Library. It has been heartwarming to see so many jump on board to make this day of compassion happen – it’s obvious our citizens are ready to make being kind, a priority. 


I’m looking forward to participating in Do The Right and I am hopeful that all of you will join me!  You can take part by doing an act of kindness for the person to your right – it may be a cup of coffee for your coworker, a nice note for your classmate or even offering a helping hand to your neighbor - just let them know they matter. 


For more information about the event, visit our website, www.meridiancity.org.  Thanks for being a part of this movement and feel free to share your experience on that day on social media with the tag #DoTheRight. Join us on April 8 to Do The Right. Let this be the first day, and every day thereafter, of kindness to others! 

Mayor Tammy Spills the Secrets

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 by Mayor Tammy

I recently read an article in Reader’s Digest titled, “13 Secrets Mayors Won’t Tell You”. It was very interesting, so I decided to share some of it here, but add my commentary to each “secret”.

1. You really can change our minds. A well-informed citizen who gets up and speaks at a meeting on an issue can be very compelling. But you have to be well-informed. And you have to do it in a respectful manner.
Mayor Tammy: Good advice - this works for both Mayors & City Council members.

2. In small cities, residents are always telling us they want certain stores and restaurants to come to town. Well, so do I. But I can’t wave a magic wand and suddenly make an Olive Garden appear. It’s a free country, and retailers get to choose where they want to locate. 
Mayor Tammy: This topic is probably my most frequent type of request; In-N-Out Burger being the most often requested.

3. The politics can be very petty and sometimes mean-spirited. The council wasn’t happy when I got elected, so the first vote they took was to take the reserved parking space away from me. It was the height of immaturity. 
Mayor Tammy: I can honestly say that this has not been an issue in Meridian. The Mayor and Council work together well – we don't always agree but can shake hands and walk away 'agreeing to disagree'.

4. It’s easier to pass a $20 million water-treatment project than it is to spend a few thousand dollars on new laptop computers for the police squad cars. People’s eyes tend to glaze over when you review the details of a big project. But small costs are a lot easier to grasp, so people jump all over them and the money. 
Mayor Tammy: In the beginning this was true; not so much today. The City Council is very engaged and thoughtful in their approach to budgeting. It gets better every year - this year we will pilot a participatory budgeting approach we hope will bring greater interest and transparency.

5. In most cities, whether you elect a Republican or Democrat makes very little difference. Most of our responsibilities…are nuts-and-bolts issues, and there’s no partisanship in them. 
Mayor Tammy: I must say that I am glad I don’t have the need to be involved in party politics.

6. I’m not as powerful as you think. If your town has a council-manager form of government, I don’t actually run your city; the city manager does.
Mayor Tammy: Our city - as most Idaho cities are structured - is the strong mayor form of government; meaning that the Mayor is the city manager. The Mayor oversees the day-to-day operations of the City with most policy, budget and land-use decisions made by the City Council.

7. People are always surprised when they see me out grocery shopping. They’ll say, “Oh, you do your own shopping?”
Mayor Tammy: The funniest I have heard are from school kids I visit - they are always looking for my 'bodyguard' and limo!

8. One of my favorite moments was when we had a shelter open because we had houses without power and heat. One family was really worrying about the dog they’d left at home, but the public works department wasn’t letting any cars on the road. So I said, “Hop in,” and I drove them up to their house. They were able to take their dog back to the shelter, and they were so appreciative. 
Mayor Tammy: There are some great mayors out there!!!

9. If you have an idea, bring it to me. The cool thing about being mayor is that, unlike at the state and national levels, you can make a decision and often see concrete results. I love how much can get done at the local level. I feel sorry for the politicians that are stuck in large scale bureaucracy. 
Mayor Tammy: City government is local and closest to the people - just like our founding fathers envisioned.

10. When it comes down to it, most people fear change. Many projects that people hate at first—the ones they complain loudest about—end up being much loved after they’re built. Some of our most controversial projects are now icons that everyone in the city is proud of. 
Mayor Tammy: True in many cases...

11. We never tell residents that the mayor is on vacation. Even when I really am on vacation, my staff will shut my office door and simply say the mayor is unavailable. 
Mayor Tammy: True – but most people know because of social media and I still tend to answer my emails and phone calls.

12. Taxes are always too high. No matter where I go or whom I talk to, that’s the first thing people say. The second thing they do is list all the things we need. But those things cost money. 
Mayor Tammy: We work to find the balance of meeting our citizens’ service needs and expectations while keeping costs to our residents in check. Meridian remains one of the lowest levies among the larger full-service Idaho cities.

13. In some states, we can legally marry people. That’s a lot of fun, one of the best perks of the job. 
Mayor Tammy: While I legally can 'marry' people this is not something I do often - by choice.

Courtesy: Reader’s Digest

Sources: Andy Berke, mayor of Chattanooga, Tennessee; Alex Morse, mayor of Holyoke, Massachusetts; Alex Torpey, mayor of South Orange, New Jersey; Don Ness, mayor of Duluth, Minnesota; Richard Martin, former mayor of Sarasota, Florida; Gary C. Smith, former mayor of Galesburg, Illinois; Maria Harkey, former mayor of West Milford, New Jersey


Read the original Readers Digest article here: http://www.rd.com/culture/mayors-secrets/#ixzz3THpyTmGb

Vote March 10th for Meridian Schools

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By Mayor Tammy


I felt it extremely important to dedicate this column to the upcoming West Ada School District bond that voters will consider next week. I haven’t been shy about my personal commitment to the education of Meridian’s future leaders – our children. One of our biggest jobs as parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents – neighbors - is to ensure that our youth are equipped to face the many new and difficult challenges that they most likely will face. The education of our children is a huge concern for our business community who provide jobs in the 385 square mile region the West Ada School District serves. These businesses – large and small - cite the importance of having an educated workforce, and list this as one of their top concerns in wanting to grow here and new businesses in moving here. 


Across the valley, and state, our school districts are struggling to meet the needs of a growing population. Districts have had to reduce school days, hire fewer teachers, figure out how to deal with overcrowded classrooms, eliminate or change bussing patterns, and that’s just to name a few things that have been done in light of tight budgets. The West Ada School District - that serves West Boise, Eagle, Meridian, and Star as well as portions of Garden City and East Canyon County - continues to grow in the number of students they serve and several of our schools are way beyond capacity. That’s why the upcoming vote for the building bond is so very important; not just to me, but to all of us.


On March 10th our community will have the chance to step up and support our kids – and our schools – by passing this bond.  This bond will not increase the property tax rate levied by the school district, thanks in large part to the new construction and the increased property value in the District.


For Meridian, this bond is very important. If passed, the $96 million bond will provide:

Two new middle schools, costing $60 million. One of the middle schools will be built in south Meridian to relieve the severe overcrowding at Lake Hazel Middle School in Boise.

A new elementary school, costing $10 million for south Meridian to relieve elementary schools south of the freeway from being over capacity. A YMCA collaborative partnership has helped reduce the cost of this project.

A $24 million remodel and expansion of the district’s oldest high school, Meridian High.

And $2 million to purchase land for a future high school site in the county’s Northwest corner.


Our community has been consistent and firm in their concern that overcrowding of schools is an issue and education of our youth is a priority. I heard it consistently from citizens of all ages and our city survey listed education and schools as one of the most important issues we are facing as a community. 


I, for one, will vote on March 10th in favor of this bond, as I believe our future as a community and the entire school district (all 385 square miles of it) will most certainly benefit from the passage of this important measure. Regardless of whether you agree with me, it is important to educate yourself on this upcoming bond and to exercise your right to vote. You can find information at adacounty.id.gov/elections. See you at the polls, March 10th!


Polls will be open on March 10, 2015 from 8am to 8pm. The election is run by Ada County Elections. Voters should go to their regular precinct polling location to vote. 

Downtown Transformation

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Downtown Meridian is on the cusp of a transformation. At a recent city council meeting, we heard a proposal for a Performing Arts facility and Conference Center to be built in the heart of our City. While we are still in the very preliminary stages of this and there are no definite plans at this point, we are eager to learn more, because we believe these possibilities would be huge additions to the heart of our downtown.


Something that will come to fruition soon in our downtown is a new Innovation Center.  The Downtown Ventures Lab will be housed in the old City Hall building. This will turn ideas into business. It’s a very unique concept because it involves true collaboration. While there are many partners in this endeavor, the Meridian Chamber and the West Ada School District, will bring a focus on engaging high school students and youth groups in entrepreneurial activities. The Ventures Lab is geared toward accelerating the idea of early stage technology companies and growing their businesses in our downtown.


As I said in my State of the City address, “Jobs make a city vibrant”, and I believe the Ventures Lab is one step toward achieving our strategic focus of economic vibrancy and job growth. Growing our “own” is a priority.


In the coming years, the transformation in Downtown Meridian will include improved or new buildings, more businesses and jobs, as well as more signature events. We are currently exploring the idea of starting a Youth Farmer’s Market in downtown that would give kids and teens an opportunity to profit from their hobbies, projects and their passions!


Infrastructure is important as we consider growth in the heart of the city, as are our downtown aesthetics.  This spring you will see islands added along Main Street and in front of alleys between Pine and Idaho and Idaho and Broadway. These islands will feature historic style banner poles to hold hanging baskets or banners and landscaping features with several pots for seasonal plantings. The islands will fit within the center turn lane and are intended to create a sense of place, liven up the street and calm the traffic flow through downtown.  In addition, there will be changes to Pine Avenue in a few years that will help create a new feel as you enter into our downtown. Stay tuned for more on this in the future.

It’s exciting to think about where we are today and where we are going in the future. Our decisions and plans are always dictated by our vision for Meridian, and that it will continue to be a premiere place to live, work and raise a family.

Community Reflection

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As I gear up for my State of the City address on Wednesday, February 4, I find myself reflecting on the significant changes Meridian has gone through over the last decade. Our community has evolved into a full service city with a growing business community, great places to go and lots to do! Meridian is no longer a well-kept secret – we are a desirable place to live, work and raise a family. It comes as no surprise that we were recognized as one of the fastest growing cities in the nation this past year. While we have been steadily growing, we have maintained a “smart growth” approach – we grow from the inside.  This ensures we can provide the level of services that our citizens expect, regardless of our size. This was one, among many, reasons we were named by Money Magazine as one of America’s top 50 Best Places to Live in 2014. 


While our community evolves, our areas of focus have primarily been on jobs, places to go, responsive government, transportation and remaining one of the safest cities in Idaho.


When it comes to jobs, we collaborate with our business and regional partners in growing and attracting family-wage jobs for our residents. We work to build a successful environment for our businesses, creating synergies among compatible and complimentary business sectors.


In transportation, we work with our partner agencies in building a comprehensive strategy for enhancing connectivity throughout our community which includes recreational transportation, such as walking and bicycling. We want to make it easier for our residents to get from point ‘a’, to point ‘b’ whether in a car or on a bike.


Having a responsive government means budgeting is a top priority. The City is transparent, maintains a balanced budget and is debt-free. We are able to accomplish this with planning, partnerships, and the expectation that growth pays its share for services.


Meridian is a vibrant, self-sustaining community that is truly built for business and designed for living. Families are the core of our City, so we will continue to make this community one that is easy for them to call home – by investing in our parks, and creating a healthy environment for families.


It’s remarkable to look at where we were and where we are today. The City has transformed, but our focus on our residents remains the same. I look forward to sharing our strategic plan for the future with all of you at my State of the City address this week.

Legislative Town Hall

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January is always a busy time at Meridian City Hall as we wrap up 2014 and look forward to what’s ahead for 2015. This month also signifies the start of the legislative session, a time when our senators and representatives evaluate Idaho and its needs and take action on what they believe to be in the best interest of the state and its citizens.  In doing so, they rely heavily on what they hear from the public when making these important decisions that impact us all.


That’s why for the fourth year we put together our Legislative Town Hall – an annual event that gives stakeholders and residents a chance to speak directly to our legislators. I was happy to see so many residents come out to Meridian City Hall to take part in this year’s Town Hall. I also appreciated the Legislators who spent the evening respectfully listening to issues and topics of interest to our citizens and community partners concerning challenges at the local level. They asked thoughtful questions of the presenters and responded to citizens’ questions on a number of topics.


We heard presentations from the Mayors Youth Advisory Council (MYAC), Government Affairs members, the Meridian Chamber of Commerce, Idaho State University, the West Ada School Board and the Meridian Development Corporation regarding education funding, new technologies, public safety, property rights, and much more. I was also very impressed by the well-thought out presentations and questions brought forward by our community.


During this year’s legislative session, the City will be watching issues related to jobs and transportation closely. At the Town Hall we also discussed our plans to advocate for improvements to State Code regarding Area of City Impact.  The change we are proposing will help ensure as a City we can anticipate, plan, install and recoup necessary service investments for future areas and avoid compromising the return on our investment which would further burden the existing tax payers.


In addition, the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council shared their views with legislators and powerful statistics when it comes to teens not wearing seatbelts. The council would like to make failure to wear a seat belt, for someone under the age of 19, a primary offense for traffic stops.  Their 'ask' of their Legislators was to ensure they received a hearing before the appropriate committee.


If you want to view the video of the Legislative Town Hall– we’ve posted it under community videos on our website, www.meridiancity.org.


Again I want to thank the legislators who took part in our Town Hall; Senate Assistant Majority Leader Chuck Winder, Senate ProTem Brent Hill, Senator Marv Hagedorn, House Minority Leader Matt Erdelding, and Representatives James Holtzclaw, Reed DeMordaunt, and Steve Harris. I appreciate Senator Winder whom has worked with us each year to bring this to our city!


I am thankful to live in a community where people understand the value of their voice and the change that can occur at the local level.

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