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Citizen Engagement Opportunities

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By Mayor Tammy

This is a busy week for the City with two huge opportunities for citizen engagement.

On Wednesday, you’re invited to a Town Hall at the brand new Hillsdale Elementary. We put together this Town Hall to give residents a chance to: Discuss and provide feedback on infrastructure in South Meridian; learn about new developments planned for the area south of I-84; gain understanding about the Meridian Library bond; and hear updates on the South Meridian YMCA partnership project. The meeting begins at 6:30pm. We will live stream it on our City of Meridian, Idaho Facebook page and we’ll post a video to our website, www.meridiancity.org, the following day.

Prior to the Town Hall, on Tuesday, you’re invited to weigh in on the proposed budget for fiscal year 2017. The public hearing is set for 6pm at Meridian City Hall, and council will vote on the proposed budget following the hearing. We’ve held two workshops during the summer ahead of this public hearing. These workshops allowed the council and I, as well as the public, to hear presentations from each department on how your dollars are invested in bringing services to the community and what is needed in order to maintain levels of service.  From those workshops, the council and our finance team have put together a proposed budget.

The proposed FY17 budget for the General Fund is $53.2 million. This includes a projected $9.9 million carried forward from the current budget year for projects currently under construction.  The General Fund, comprised primarily of property tax revenue, is the account which pays for Police, Fire, Parks and the administrative functions of the City.  The FY17 budget includes a 2% increase in the allowable property tax, primarily focused on public safety needs, along with several park projects paid for by growth impact fees. This includes supporting the City’s Public Safety Fund for future capital projects in the Police and Fire Departments.

The proposed FY17 budget for the Enterprise Fund is $66.7 million, including a projected $17.1 million carried forward from the current budget year for completion of ongoing projects.  The Enterprise Fund, which is funded by water and sewer assessment fees and user rates, is the account used to fund the City’s water and wastewater operations and maintenance as well as the infrastructure necessary to serve our community and respond to ongoing regulatory requirements.

Ahead of Tuesday’s hearing, you are welcome to view the budget summary and notice, by visiting our website and clicking on City News and Meeting or view a full budget proposal in the Meridian City Clerk’s Office at City Hall. We will be live streaming the public hearing as we did our workshops in June and July, so those interested could follow the discussions. We want to be completely transparent in how we are putting tax dollars to use. We work diligently to keep our tax rates among the lowest in the State for a full-service city, while providing the levels of service you should expect. That transparency and openness is one of the many reasons residents tell me they love living in Meridian.

Citizen engagement in Meridian is necessary to ensure your voice is heard and that our services continue to meet your expectations.  As your Mayor, I encourage you to take part in one or both of these opportunities - learn more about what’s happening in Meridian and discuss the future of our community!

Meridian Budget Hearing: Tuesday, August 30 at 6:00pm at Meridian City Hall

Meridian Town Hall: Wednesday, August 31 at 6:30pm at Hillsdale Elementary

The Season of Change

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 By Mayor Tammy

The start of school always means that change is in the air: new teachers, classmates, curriculum, sports, clubs, etc. It signals the end of summer and the start of a new season is right around the corner in our community. It’s a good time to remind area residents that this brings about changes on the roads and in our neighborhoods.

Drivers need to be aware of students walking or biking to school and busses stopping to pick up area kids. In addition, we hear from many parents about the challenges associated with drop-off and pick-ups at schools and from residents about parking issues in and around schools in many neighborhoods.  I ask everyone to be mindful of one another and your neighbors as this change takes place.  Be respectful and be safe, and for those of you headed to work, be sure to adjust your commute times in order to make way for this changing season.

Another big change is here at City Hall as we kick off a new year with the Meridian Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council (MYAC).  Last year was the biggest year we’ve seen yet, with more kids joining MYAC than ever before and our advisor, Ken Corder and I are expecting even more this year.  Meridian students in grades 9-12 are invited to be a part of MYAC. We’re holding a kickoff event for those who are interested on Monday, August 29 at 6pm or 7:30pm.

Our MYAC students continue to be leaders in the state and our community. Whether it is promoting legislative solutions or social causes that impact our youth, their voices are heard and they are stepping up donating their time and energy. But they are more than advocates and community volunteers – they are also charged with organizing events for their peers and area residents. One of their first objectives will be focused on the Youth Safety Summit in September. It brings in teens from across the state and educates them on the dangers of texting and driving, as well as the effects of bullying and drugs and alcohol. Teens say the one day interactive event is a game changer and sets the tone for the school year.

This fall the group will also get to witness last year’s participatory budgeting come to fruition with the opening of a permanent outdoor gym at Tully Park. This is a historic moment for Idaho – in that these teens piloted this participatory budgeting exercise for the first time, helping to direct funds to an amenity the community has wanted for quite some time!

Leading the charge for our MYAC group this year is a new Executive Council comprised of students from each high school, including Charter and Home Schools. New this year – they plan to focus on middle school outreach. This is great way to connect our high school leaders with middle school students in our community.

I have high expectations again for this group. They have a passion for their community that is inspiring.  I have no doubt we are in for another successful school year!

For more information about MYAC and this year’s orientation meetings, visit www.meridiancity.org/myac.

myac flyer - 2016

Listening Tour: Your Voice Matters

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By Mayor Tammy

Each year I host a Listening Tour with community members from across our city. People from all walks of life are invited to attend - and from all parts of our community - into my home to have a conversation about Meridian. The group meetings are set by geographical areas with the goal of getting a pulse on our City from those who live and work here. These conversations help us identify things we are doing well, and ways we can improve. 

We had a great group of diverse individuals who participated this summer.  We had parents, grandparents, children, business owners, employees, students and retirees.  Some were new to Meridian; others have been here for years.  They all brought unique perspectives to the conversation as we had a refugee, commuters who bike to work, some who are struggling to find jobs, military veterans, a widowed woman who appreciates the safety of our community, a college student and more. I enjoyed meeting each of them and listening to their thoughts about Meridian.

One of the questions we ask is what are we doing well in Meridian? I heard our parks are a big hit! People appreciate the safety of our community – our responsive police and fire departments – and the cleanliness of our city. They also tell me The Village at Meridian is a favorite place for entertainment, but also enjoy seeing more dining and entertainment options in our downtown. Affordability is also a bright spot! My favorite quote I hear often is that we have “big city amenities with a small town feel”. I agree and we want to keep it that way.

When it comes to things we can improve on, the same topics seem to pop up with each group no matter where people live: Schools and Roads. I want to assure you that we hear this feedback and we pass it along to the agencies who oversee these elements in our community.  People love our school district, but they are concerned about the inequities in funding from the State and options on how to pay for needed additional schools. With roads, they wanted to know about coordination with the Ada County Highway District - how we communicate and work with them to highlight needed improvements and how we work together in community planning.  Along those lines, tour attendees said they would like to see more attention paid to the needs of bicyclists, joggers and walkers. This is something we are working on as we expand our Parks and Recreation master plan for pathways over the next decade - with a focus on connecting sidewalks throughout the community.

I really appreciated the discussion on our downtown – people were quick to point out that they liked the façade improvements, banners and aesthetic improvements; but would like to see more outdoor dining opportunities. I also received great feedback on the new Youth Farmer’s Market – those who have attended say it is a great addition to our City! People expressed a desire to see expanded events and activities in downtown such as a music or concert venue. All of these comments are near and dear to my heart and I’m so excited to see many people from the community are already working to make these dreams a reality.  

Specific areas within our community had their own area of focus as well.  North Meridian would like to see more commercial businesses and improvements to Chinden – validating and building on efforts by a task force I created last summer with the goal of reducing congestion, improving safety and creating economic opportunity along Chinden. One frequent question that was received was ‘when are we going to get a new Costco?’ At the time of this writing, the City has not received an application so there is nothing to confirm at this point. 

In South Meridian, people wanted to know about what infrastructure is expected in this area and when. Of course many were aware of the South Meridian project that includes a YMCA, city park and other partnerships - set to open in 2017. But those at our meetings wanted to talk about sidewalks, pathways, and road improvements in the area as well. We plan to hold a Town Hall at the new Hillsdale Elementary on Wednesday, August, 31 at 6:30pm. If you live in South Meridian I would encourage you to come and talk about this area of town. As well, participate in a ‘BE THE MAP’ exercise and show us what priorities are important to you for sidewalks, pathways, road/intersection improvements and more.

My heartfelt thanks to everyone who participated in this year’s listening tours. I appreciated your time, comments, and the opportunity to hear what you think about Meridian. Your voice matters and we care what the people in our community think. Working together we will continue to be the best place to live in America.

If you are interested in taking part in next year's Listening Tour, please contact Ken Corder in the Mayor's Office, kcorder@meridiancity.org.

For the Men and Women in Blue

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By Mayor Tammy

I had already started writing my musing for this week when the incident in Dallas occurred (and now the latest in Baton Rouge). I am horrified by what I see unfolding. That musing will be saved for another day… My heart aches for Dallas and Baton Rouge. My prayers go out to their law enforcement officers, their families, and their communities. My thoughts and prayers are also with the families and friends of those lost in shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota and their communities.

Such tragedy. Where is our moral compass at this time in our nation? There is so much hatred everywhere. Unfortunately, we’ve seen a lot of it channeled at law enforcement – even here locally.

Following the news out of Dallas, Meridian Police Chief Jeff Lavey sent a note to his team that said this: “I’m feeling sad, frustrated and angry about what happened in Dallas. I’m trying to wrap my mind about what the heck is happening in our country. Now is not the time to become paranoid or create gaps – it is not an “us versus them”. We must be diligent, aware and watch out for each other. We must continue to do our jobs. Officer safety is always paramount but we have a community to serve in partnership with each other for the common goal of ensuring Meridian remains a great place to live work and raise a family.”

I work alongside our police officers. I can attest to you that our department is one that cares for our community.

Councilman Joe Borton summarized their service perfectly after the Dallas incident when he said, “The Meridian Police Department does care about the safety of our citizens, and its officers, and has been proactively conscious of that mission every day.  It is one of the factors that makes our police department outstanding and our city safe.” 

Our police officers get ready for work each day not knowing what lies before them. Just last month, a Boise Police Officer was shot in the line of duty. Our officers’ days could be filled with danger as they seek to serve and keep our communities safe. It’s no accident that Meridian is one of the safest in the state – it is thanks to the service of our department as well as their relationships with our community.

Shortly after the Dallas events I received a couple of emails asking for accountability in our police department.  My initial response was what makes people think our officers aren’t accountable? The Meridian Police Department’s mission is “to provide the highest quality service in partnership with the community to preserve and protect life and property through education, prevention and enforcement”.  The department is focused on accountability and transparency – something enriched with the body worn camera program. The department also has an Office of Professional Responsibility. This includes a strict process of reviewing all public complaints, comments, inquiries and even praise our employees receive and involves our legal department. They have a professional policy manual that is reviewed to make sure it meets or exceeds national standards at a minimum of twice per year, which we hold our officers accountable to. Because of this, we are one of the few law enforcement agencies that is accredited through the Idaho Chiefs of Police Association. And many of you may remember the recent video we had go viral - when one of our officers responded to a dangerous dog situation and handled it without the use of force.  This is because of the training programs we use.  We take public safety, officer training, preparedness, and accountability very seriously.

Our department has 97 police officers and 26 civilian staff dedicated to making Meridian a great place to live, work and raise a family. I’m thankful for their service, as I am with law enforcement across this nation. Unfortunately there are rare and tragic incidents that cast a shadow on all law enforcement. We simply can't let that happen. Not in Idaho, not in Meridian. All lives matter! It’s time to rise up and unite as people - as a country - and stop spewing hate. 

#MeridianSummer Top 10

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By Mayor Tammy

I love summertime in Meridian! The other day I was able to shop for produce at the Youth Farmers Market, attend Dairy Days, cool off at the Kleiner Park splash pad with my grandkids and watch the sunset from my patio on a gorgeous summer evening.  As I watched the sun go down, I thought of all of the amazing things we have to do, right here in our own backyard! So if you are looking for some summer fun – here are 10 ideas to consider: 

10. Youth Farmers Market

This year marks the first annual Youth Farmers Market! This event is a long-awaited addition because it’s something the community has wanted for some time, but ours is unique because the majority of vendors are youth from across the valley. Bring the family downtown on Saturday mornings, support our local youth and shop the fresh produce, baked goods, crafts and more!  (Now – Sept. 24, Saturdays from 9am-12pm, Meridian City Hall Plaza)

9. CableONE Movie Night

Can you believe this is the 10th year of CableONE Movie Night? I can remember when it began and it has definitely grown to be a community favorite! Check out the schedule of movies at www.meridiancity.org/movienight and share your pictures on social media with the hashtag #MeridianMovieNight.  (Now – Aug. 26, Fridays at dusk, Settlers Park)  

8. Concerts on Broadway

This event grows in popularity each year. Who doesn’t want to listen to some great concerts under the summer night’s sky?! Join us for Concerts on Broadway here in the Meridian City Hall Plaza! The concerts are free and there will be food trucks at each event this year. (July 9, August 6, August 13, 6:30pm, Meridian City Hall Plaza)

7. Meridian Parks

There is plenty of fun to be had in our parks this summer. The splash pads at Kleiner and Settlers Parks are a great way to cool off and there’s fishing right here in town at both of those parks! Our parks play host to numerous events throughout the summer such as the Independence Day Festival at Storey Park, concerts, races, vendor shows and more. And don’t forget to check out Storey Bark Park – your dogs will love the amenities!   

6. Kleiner Park LIVE

Speaking of our parks - Kleiner Park Live is a Thursday night summer outdoor concert series at the Kleiner Park band shell. Bring your blankets and lawn chairs and enjoy some great evenings at the park. There will be food and beer vendors on site. The next concert is July 7, featuring Hang Eleven. For more information check out the list of shows and dates at www.meridiancity.org/kleinerparklive.

5. Roaring Springs/Wahooz

It’s probably one of the more sought after destinations in our community come summer. Beat the heat at Roaring Springs or check out Wahooz for some family fun!

4. Indoor Activities such as Big Al’s

Across town, you can stay cool by staying indoors. Big Al’s, like Wahooz, offer specials throughout the summer including Kids Bowl Free! Last year Big Al’s provided over 115,000 FREE games of bowling at their three locations in the Northwest including Meridian. Other options for indoor fun in town include Jump Time, Dart Wars, and Danik Gymnastics.

3. The Village at Meridian

Aside from the great shopping and dining, The Village is hosting events throughout the summer including Yoga at Fountain Square, Kids Storytime, Ladies Night Out and Art Walks, and the Rock the Village Concert Series that kicks off July 8 and is held every Friday night through August 26. We’re seeing some other local businesses host summer concert series this year including the Courtyard Marriott and the Homestead Bar and Grill.

2. Meridian Library

If your kids are getting stir crazy this summer, the Meridian Library has plenty of fun and engaging options for them! From the new unBound location in Downtown Meridian that hosts programs each week, to the Summer Reading event that includes incentives – there’s something for everyone!

1. Experience Downtown Meridian

And finally, I encourage you to experience Downtown Meridian this summer. Learn about our community’s history by following our Historical Walking Tour or check out the changes in downtown. We’ve welcomed several new businesses and just revealed new updates along Idaho Avenue including decks, planters and more! 

Of course aside from my top ten there’s community favorites like golfing at Lakeview Golf Club, Food Trucks in the Park every Wednesday at Settlers, the Barn Sour Race (August 20),  and the Community Block Party in September.  Plus, our Parks and Recreation Department put together a Summer Activity Guide that is full of fun ideas and activities for people of all ages!

You can always check out more events online on our website – www.meridiancity.org. We look forward to seeing your pictures and videos on social media from your summer fun in our community with the hashtags #MeridianSummer and #MyMeridian. 

MyMeridian

Old and New Traditions Emerge This Week in Downtown Meridian

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By Mayor Tammy

This week – the old meets the new in Downtown Meridian. A long time tradition and a new community tradition will help us usher in the official start of summer – the long-standing Dairy Days and the new Meridian Youth Farmers Market!

I can’t believe it is already time for the Meridian Youth Farmers Market to kick off its inaugural season (Saturday, June 25). It feels like just yesterday we were meeting in the Mayor’s Office trying to figure out how we could make our community farmers market unique to the valley. With the idea to create a Youth Farmers Market, we launched something that had never been done before in the area – a market that is focused on our youth. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – this market is a tremendous opportunity for our area youth. The focus on our kids will give them the chance to learn ‘life skills’ and profit from their hobbies and projects, but most importantly, their passions.

Every Saturday from 9am-12pm (June 25 – September 24), I invite you to visit the market in the Meridian City Hall Plaza and support our youth! You’ll find products such as fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, baked goods, refreshments and food trucks! 

We’re excited to kick off this new community event in the midst of the 87th annual Meridian Dairy Days (June 23-26).  The Meridian Dairy Board has put together an even larger Dairy Days event this year, with more options and activities for families.  New to the event this year – an Art Festival on Saturday June 25 at 11am in Storey Park. This is the first time the Meridian Arts Commission has teamed up with the Dairy Board to put this event together. It will feature 20 local artists, art classes for kids and performances by the Treasure Valley Youth Theatre.

Also at the Park; Brown’s Carnival which opens at 4pm on Thursday, June 23, and the Pancake Feed that same day at 4pm, benefiting the Meridian Food Bank and the Meridian Injured Police Officers Fund. Friday, Saturday and Sunday are packed with family activities including a bike rodeo, live entertainment and a fireworks show at the Meridian Speedway on Friday at 10:30pm.   

The large Dairy Days Parade where thousands are expected to head to Downtown Meridian is on Friday, June 24 at 6:45pm with a new route! It will begin on Main Street at the Meridian Speedway, run north to East Fairview, then south on 2 ½ Street.   

I’m looking forward to this weekend as we celebrate two traditions in Downtown Meridian, an old and new one - giving residents even more options for activities in our great community!

For more information on these events, visit week www.meridiancity.org and click on the City News and Meetings tab. 

youth fm - 2015

Protecting Our Kids

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By Mayor Tammy

As we wrap up the 2015-16 school year, it's appropriate to highlight a group of people who are near and dear to my heart. They are the ones who wake up each day and come to work with the sole purpose of protecting our kids. The Meridian Police Department School Resource Officer (SRO) program consists of 9 officers who are assigned to 13 elementary schools, 6 middle schools, 3 high schools and several alternative, charter and private schools in our community within the West Ada School District.

Our SRO’s do more than just enforce the law. They walk the halls of our schools connecting with our kids; they also attend events such as high school sports games – keeping our community safe. Our SROs are involved in youth education, mentoring kids in our community and working directly with them – as evidenced by an event that took place this past week at Mountain View High School. A few months ago, Meridian Police Officer David Gomez spoke with a local newspaper about the students he encounters who don’t have necessities, like shoes. After reading this article, local business Pulse Running and Fitness Shop donated 100 pairs of shoes to Mountain View students in need on May 31. Officer Gomez was thrilled saying “these shoes will go to kids at the school who desperately need new shoes and cannot afford them. I have given out three pairs of shoes today already.” 

 pulse shoe donation - june2016

Officer Gomez is popular amongst the students and faculty at Mountain View but he’s also well known in the community for his Internet Safety for Families Class that he offers for free throughout the year. It’s an extremely important class in this age of technology, designed to teach parents and students about the dangers of social media and how to stay protected.

Another popular SRO in our community just announced he’s retiring! School Resource Officer Mike Lock has been with the Meridian Police Department for 24 years and has served many of those years as the SRO at Meridian Middle School.  Officer Lock’s impact on our kids has been immeasurable. The community is invited to join us in celebrating Officer Lock’s retirement on Friday, June 10, 2016 at 3pm at Meridian City Hall.

I’ve called out two SRO’s by name, but it takes the whole team - and their caring supervisor - working diligently each day with our schools and youth. They are key to keeping our community one of the safest in the state and the number one place to live in America. I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard from residents, even employees here at City Hall, about how an SRO has made a difference in the lives of a student. So as we close out this school year, I want to say thank you to the Meridian Police School Resource Officers who serve and protect our youth, each and every day.

lock retirement june2016