March 04, 2015      22.0°F (-5.6°C) | Fair
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Vote March 10th for Meridian Schools

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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.

Your Voice is Important

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Join us for the Legislative Town Hall

By Mayor Tammy

 

As we gear up for another legislative session, I think it is important for legislators to hear from our citizens. Collaboration is key in ensuring Idaho continues to be a great place to live, work, and raise our families! That’s why we are once again inviting the community to our Legislative Town Hall Meeting on Wednesday, January 14 at 6:30 pm at Meridian City Hall. 

 

The City of Meridian is partnering with Senator Chuck Winder and we have invited all of the Senate and House leadership as well as legislators from Districts 14, 20, 21, and 22 to participate in this interactive meeting.  We are holding this event for the 4th year in a row because we think it is important for our state leaders to hear about the challenges our citizens, business leaders, and educators face as a growing community.  And in order to reach as many people in Meridian as possible - and other areas as well - this year we will stream the meeting online. We’ve set up a “Legislative Town Hall” Facebook invite via our Meridian City Hall page with updates. Be sure to “like” our Facebook page and join the event for more streaming information or visit our website, www.meridiancity.org.

 

One of the issues we hope to highlight this legislative session is an update to Idaho’s land use law. We believe as we plan for the future using today’s tax dollars, that investment should be protected. If not, the planning that is done by all of our departments to provide services becomes wasted spending.  We don’t agree with that approach. Do you have an opinion on this or any other issue?  If so, then be sure to join us at the meeting! 

 

In addition to hearing from the City, we anticipate participation from the Meridian Chamber of Commerce, the West Ada School District, and the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council leaders.  I believe our citizens bring unique perspectives that are important for consideration during the 2015 legislative session.

 

 

I look forward to seeing you on January 14.  

Serve and Protect

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 Christmas is almost here! While most of us will spend the holiday at home gathered around the tree and table with loved ones, there are many people who won’t, including those who serve our residents in public safety roles – our police and fire personnel.

 

As I reflect on this season of giving, it’s hard not to think of just how much those in public safety give each and every day to our city. We recently recognized four of our Meridian police officers because thanks to their quick thinking, they saved lives at two separate incidents. I couldn’t help but feel overwhelming gratitude as I shook their hands. At the same time, I realized we just don’t tell those in public safety thank you enough. Each day they put on their uniforms not knowing what is ahead of them or what situations will be presented; the holidays are no exception. It takes a special kind of person to commit to that ongoing service for our community.

 

On top of their day-to-day duties – I’m constantly blown away by all of the programs our police and fire department employees support in our community.  This holiday season they purchased gifts for children with the Meridian Boys and Girls Club who otherwise may not have received presents this Christmas. Our police department’s victim witness coordinators identified families in need and used funds from the City’s bake sale to purchase items for those children and families.  And at every Meridian Fire Station, you’ll find bins for the Meridian Food Bank as our stations collect food and other items year round.

 

 I believe that those in our police and fire departments symbolize what Meridian is all about – giving and serving others. Their selfless service is a reason our community is one of the best and most safe places to call home.

 

From the bottom of my heart, thank you to our men and women who put on a badge or uniform each day and go above and beyond to serve our community. Merry Christmas!

 

Connecting with You

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 By Mayor Tammy

 One of my goals is to make sure Meridian residents feel connected to their city, local government officials and local businesses, which is why we are constantly striving to keep you better informed. From our Facebook and Twitter to town hall meetings, as well as the city’s website, newsletters, and through media; we want you to have the latest information and updates on events in our great community. And, one of my favorite ways to connect with residents is our Coffee with the Mayor.

 Our first Coffee with the Mayor was held back in 2007 and since then it has grown to be a great event to discuss issues, share ideas, ask questions, network and connect. I enjoy connecting with Meridian residents over coffee (or other beverages) because it gives me a chance to get to know those who live, work and play in our community on a more personal level.

 It also gives residents a chance to get questions answered quickly and we’re able to discuss community updates. We have representatives from every city department on hand to lend their expertise and share information with those who attend. Fresh ideas, solutions to challenging issues, and new business relationships have resulted from these informal get-togethers.

 I never want to be a mayor who leads our city from behind a desk. Getting out in the community, meeting new people, and connecting with residents is how I plan to continue building a brighter future for our city. Our next Coffee with the Mayor is scheduled for Tuesday, December 9 from 8:00am – 9:30am at Coleman Homes Design Center, 3103 West Sheryl Drive #100, Meridian, Idaho 83642.

 Bring your stories, your ideas, and your questions and let’s connect! This is a special “Holiday Giving” Coffee with the Mayor because we will be collecting food for the Meridian Food Bank. So we’re asking all who attend to bring non-perishable food items to donate.  The Coleman Homes’ staff has already kicked it off with an internal food drive that will culminate at our Coffee with the Mayor event. I am hopeful we are able to make a sizable contribution to assist those in need this holiday season.

 Let’s get together to make this community the best it can be for all who live here!

 I look forward to seeing you on Tuesday, December 9!


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33 E. Broadway Ave., Meridian, Idaho 83642  |  208.888.4433 (Click link above to view map)