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Nampa City Council votes to opt-out of Governor's Public Safety Initiative

Posted at 7:50 AM, Sep 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-18 09:50:01-04

NAMPA, Idaho — Nampa City Councilors vote not to participate in the Governor's Public Safety Initiative.

The vote happened during a special meeting Thursday to discuss the risks related to participation in the GPSI. The initiative allocated federal CARES Act funding towards reimbursing public safety payroll expenses related to COVID-19 between March and December 2020.

The GPSI was created with the intent to provide a single year of property tax relief for residents in participating cities and counties. In order to qualify, expenditures must have been unanticipated and not accounted for in the current budget.

Councilors say they're not sure Nampa meets that criteria so they're turning down roughly $9 million for those payroll costs, just in case an audit forces them to return it later.

"As far as I know, the governor's program that includes a tax savings component to it may be unique to Idaho, can be sub-recipients or recipients of those CARES Act funds. The larger cities are direct recipients like the state is. They're all wrestling with this same guidance, trying to determine whether they can take this pool of money and pay for police and fire," explains Nampa City Attorney Mark Hilty.

Council Member Jean Mutchie also spoke out against the funding during the special meeting, saying "the substantial potential benefit doesn't potentially outweigh the substantial potential risk."

Councilors did approve CARES Act funding for up to $500,000 in total funds to give to small businesses with average awards to individual applicants ranging from $10,000 to $15,000. The city also approved the allocation of up to $200,000 to the Boys & Girls Club for their community services.

Nampa isn't alone in opting out of the GPSI. During a meeting earlier this week, the City of Caldwell also decided not to participate in the initiative, explaining the payroll savings realized by the city would have been credited against property taxes in 2021.