Stay up to date with transportation issues this legislative session as the IAHD interviews Idaho State Legislators and other key personnel from the Capitol.
To kick off the new series Nick Veldhouse, the executive director of the IAHD, interviewed Representative Sage Dixon from Legislative District 1 in Northern Idaho. Now entering his third term in office and third term serving on the House Transportation and Defense Committee, Representative Dixon discusses the surplus eliminator and funding for transportation while providing viewers with a preview into the legislative session.
Do you have a question you would like answered during this series or a specific topic you want to learn more about? Let us know by completing the form below. The IAHD will notify you which episode your question or topic will be addressed.
The 2019 Local Strategic Initiative (LSI) applications have been scored and ranked, approved by the LHTAC Executive Committee on January 9, 2019. Please note, the awards will not be issued until the Idaho Legislature appropriates the funding.
Every year highway district personnel have the opportunity to nominate a deserving Commissioner to receive the IAHD Commissioner of the Year award. This year, the Association has extended such recognition to Highway District Clerks to receive the IAHD Clerk of the Year award.
Commissioner of the Year
Commissioner Gaylen Smyer with Burley Highway District has earned the 2018 IAHD Commissioner of the Year award. As an Idaho native who grew up in Delco, Commissioner Smyer continues to live his life through bettering his community. He has maintained unwavering commitment to Burley Highway District for the past thirty-one (31) years, even while serving as the Cassia County School District Superintendent for the past eleven (11) years.
Clerk of the Year
The recipient of the inaugural IAHD Clerk of the Year award is Carol Richel, a devoted clerk from Worley Highway District. Carol's sense of dependability and excellent collaboration has made her the "go-to clerk" to help navigate different situations the local Highway District Association in Kootenai County is faced with. Even after eleven (11) years with the district, Carol's favorite part of her job is putting together the budget. Carol explained, "We all have a lot of fun here at work, it's a great place to work."
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, today introduced legislation to provide much-needed financial certainty for rural counties to ensure they have the long-term funding needed for schools, road maintenance, law enforcement and other essential services.
The bipartisan Forest Management for Rural Stability Act makes the Secure Rural Schools program—which expired at the end of FY 2018—permanent by creating an endowment fund to provide stable, increasing and reliable funding for county services.
“Without a permanent fiscal solution, forested counties in Oregon and across the country will continue to slide into financial uncertainty. Oregonians will continue to be left with fewer teachers and law enforcement officers, forced to close libraries, and unable to repair broken bridges and roads,” said Wyden. “This bipartisan, bold approach will finally end the financial roller coaster and provide Oregonians living and working in rural counties the security they need and deserve.”
“Establishing a growing endowment for the Secure Rural Schools program will end the need for short-term or retroactive reauthorizations of this program.” said Crapo. “The Secure Rural Schools program has become vital in budgeting for essential services in Idaho’s forested counties with large tracts of tax-exempt federal lands. This endowment will stabilize the program for generations and maintain the important link between economic growth and forest management in our forested counties, while ending the perpetual temporary band-aids that create instability and uncertainty. In the coming year, I will work with Senator Wyden to advance and refine today’s proposal by gathering the input of other stakeholders and our Senate colleagues. The Secure Rural Schools program is important to dozens of states and this proposal should receive strong, bipartisan support.”
The Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act (SRS)—originally co-authored by Wyden—was enacted in 2000 to financially assist counties with public, tax-exempt forestlands.
Critical services at the county level have historically been funded in part with a 25 percent share of timber receipts from federal U.S. Forest Service lands, and a 50 percent share of timber receipts from federal Oregon and California Grant Lands managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. As those revenues have fallen or fluctuated due to reduced timber harvest and market forces, SRS payments helped bridge the gap to keep rural schools open, provide road maintenance, support search and rescue efforts and other essential county services.
In recent years, however, Congress has allowed SRS funding to lapse and decrease, creating massive uncertainty for counties as they budget for basic county services. Wyden and Crapo’s Forest Management for Rural Stability Act ends the uncertainty and provides rural counties financial security.
Clackamas County Commissioner Martha Schrader, President, Association of Oregon Counties: “This is an important bill for all of Oregon’s counties, especially our rural communities. Senators Wyden and Crapo have been working diligently on this bill for over a year with input from many interest groups, including AOC. The result is a well thought out bill that will help stabilize funding for counties and schools.”
Seth Grigg, Executive Director, Idaho Association of Counties: “For years Idaho’s forest counties have faced economic uncertainty due to changing federal land management practices and declining forest payments to counties and schools. Senator Crapo’s efforts will help stabilize funding for rural highways and schools. We applaud the Senator for his efforts to ensure stable forest payments to counties and schools.”
Douglas County Commissioner Tim Freeman, President, Association of Oregon and California Counties: “This is a big step forward. We are grateful to Senator Wyden for taking the lead and proposing this important measure"
Custer County Commissioner and Idaho Association of Counties Public Lands Committee Chairman Wayne Butts:“Ninety-three percent of land in Custer County is under federal managed and exempt from property taxation. Counties and schools like ours can’t operate without federal forest payments.”
Harney County Commissioner Mark Owens, Co-Chair, Association of Oregon Counties Natural Resources Steering Committee: “Counties need some certainty when we do our budgeting. The bill would give us more certainty and would also give us a broader latitude in how to spend the money we receive. For counties with National Forests, 85% of the payments would be used for traditional purposes of funding for roads and schools; 15% would be chosen from a list broad enough that every county would have local needs that could be addressed with those funds. Congress should move quickly to make Senator Wyden’s vision a reality.”
Idaho County Commissioner Skip Brandt: “While this bill isn’t a substitute for improving the management of neglected forest lands in Idaho, it is a necessary step in stabilizing federal forest payments to Idaho counties and schools. Federal forest payments fund vital local services including safe roads, search and rescue, and public education. We are grateful to Senator Crapo for taking the lead in working on this important issue.”
Marc Brinkmeyer, Chairman and CEO, Idaho Forest Group: “I appreciate the efforts of both Senator Crapo and Senator Wyden to provide increased certainty to counties that rely on Secure Rural Schools funding. In addition to providing stability to county payments, the bill recognizes the need to maintain a link to active forest management, which is critical to providing both economic and ecologic vitality to rural communities in the West.”
Travis Joseph, President and CEO, American Forest Resource Council: “We are passionate about and committed to the health and safety of the rural communities in which we live and work. We share the goal of Senators Wyden and Crapo to generate permanent, reliable financial support to forested counties in order to provide essential services to all community members - a goal the forest products industry contributes to every day. We appreciate the opportunity to continue working on the bipartisan concept - an endangered species in the Congress - while preserving the critical link between sustainable forest management, jobs, timber volume, and robust local economies.”
Matthew Chase, Executive Director, National Association of Counties: “Counties appreciate the efforts of Senators Crapo and Wyden to ensure stable payments to local governments and support robust economies in rural areas. For years, forest counties have faced fiscal uncertainty due to federal regulations that reduce timber harvests on federal lands and the unpredictable annual appropriations process. The Forest Management for Rural Stability Act will create greater revenue stability for counties and new tools for forest management. Counties urge Congress to act on this legislation as soon as possible.”
Marc Egan, Director of Government Relations, National Education Association: “We need an all of the above approach to securing the future of rural schools and communities. We urge Congress to extend funding for Secure Rural Schools before the end of the year. In addition, NEA supports bipartisan approaches that offer fresh ways of looking at how to help schools and communities near federal forests have the financial security they have long been promised.”
Nicole L’Esperance (Wyden), 202.224.3789
Lindsay Nothern (Crapo), 208.334.1776
With the high volume of accidents at Prairie Avenue and Chase Road in Post Falls, Idaho, Post Falls Highway District sought the best option to enhance the safety and ease of traffic for travelers. On Monday, June 11, the Highway District broke ground on a new single-lane roundabout. Thanks to Ruen Yeager & Associates as the design engineers and LaRiviere as the main contractor, in just a few short days great progress has been made to complete the project by July 25, depicted below.
Post Falls Highway District has also been working closely with East Greenacres Irrigation District to replace a waterline within the scope of the project area. In speaking about the partnership, Post Falls Highway District Commissioner Terry Werner stated, “It worked out real well to work with the water district to get the projects done,” which will prevent the intersection from undergoing an additional construction project in the coming years.
As one of the seventeen projects awarded funding through the Local Strategic Initiatives (SI) Program, Post Falls Highway District received $1M to complete the roundabout. The program was designed to fund construction projects that are related to maintenance, and address safety and mobility concerns affecting the community. The program is funded through the Surplus Eliminator, resulting from the passage of House Bill 312 during the 2015 Legislative session. The bill requires state funds remaining at the years end to be distributed between the rainy-day fund and state transportation system. Fortunately, the 2017 Legislative session passed Senate Bill 1206 to extend the Surplus Eliminator for another two years and required funds to be shared between the state (60%) and local transportation system (40%). Currently, the Local Highway Technical Assistance Council (LHTAC) administers the local share of the Surplus Eliminator which jointly combines the Local Strategic Initiatives Program with the Children Pedestrian Safety Program.
After reviewing and scoring 80 applicants, LHTAC approved funding for 17 Local SI projects amounting to $10.165M. Funding was awarded as a grant to the local jurisdiction, with a maximum award of $1M. Thanks to the Surplus Eliminator, numerous projects across the state have broke ground and will be completed by November 2018. However, the Surplus Eliminator is due to sunset in 2019, in which the Local SI Program and Children Pedestrian Safety Program will no longer receive funding without removal or extension of the sunset clause.
For more information regarding the Local SI Program and how to apply, please visit LHTAC’s website.
From Old Highway 30 to Emmett Road, Canyon Highway District No. 4 (CHD4) is hard at work and expect to complete the Willis Road project next month. The project has included pavement removal, excavation, pipe replacements and extension, and ditch grading to improve drainage. The completed project will be well worth the wait. Keep up the great work CHD4!
To read more about the Willis Road project and other projects Canyon Highway District No. 4 is working on, visit their website.
Canyon Highway District No. 4 employees are hard at work rebuilding Oasis Road and replacing pipe for Sand Hollow Creek on the Gem-Canyon County line. Very impressive work, folks!
Last year’s snowmageddon, followed by rapid snow melt, wreaked havoc on infrastructure across the state. On February 9, 2017, River Road, northeast of Buhl, was swept away by the runoff. The capacity of the 1979 cement box culvert was unable to handle such high volume of water flow. This caused the backed up runoff to break through the culvert and wash away the surrounding land and road.
Planning for the future, Buhl Highway District chose to build a bridge to ease the water flow down Deep Creek while preserving the longevity of River Road. Without the bridge, residents had to travel an additional 20-30 minutes to and from town. Therefore, Buhl Highway District contacted key stakeholders to expedite the process.
After the permits were approved, the highway district wasted no time beginning the project in November 2017. Highway Director, John Zamora, explained that the “Excavation and demo work was huge, it was over half the project.” Which was in addition to diverting the water, stabilizing the bank, installing rip rap, and finally the full construction of the bridge. With all that, Buhl Highway District completed the project in less than 6 months. “Thank God for a mild winter” Zamora stated while describing how the highway district was able to complete the project in such a timely manner.
Yesterday morning the Buhl Highway District paved the bridge and after having a celebratory lunch, it was time for the ribbon cutting ceremony! By 3 pm the asphalt had cooled down enough for the bridge to be open for traffic.
Great job folks, keep up the hard work!
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