It is hard for me to believe, because it has gone by in a blink, that in 16 days I will have been your Mayor for eight years; originally appointed and twice elected. As you read this and in 16 days my life will have changed twice. The former is my choice the latter is not.
As I reflect back on the 14 years that I have served you as a City Councilperson and Mayor I do so with a great sense of achievement in the changes and improvements we have made as a community. I say we because no one person affects the changes and improvements that we have all experienced. To me serving has always been about the greater we; what we as a community do and have done to change all our lives for the better. If you have been here for at least 14 years think back and imagine what American Falls would be like without changes we have collectively accomplished; a vastly different place than where we live today is what I see.
Yet, a mill cannot grind on water that is past, we must continue to look to the future as the needs of our community evolve almost daily. Critical infrastructure needs maintenance and some even replaced; our children need more opportunities to recreate, long gone are the theater and bowling alley; affordable housing needs to be made available to young families; new sustainable businesses need to be attracted; the list goes on and on. And, while what we have accomplished in the past provides a great foundation for the future, the future does not ensure itself. The only way that I have learned to have a reasonable chance at future success has always been through directed planning and focused effort. Tomorrow is promised to no one; but should you be able to greet tomorrow with a plan and dedicated effort good things generally result. The future of our community is extremely promising, I believe.
For the past three weeks or so I have been working with City Clerk Miller, City Councilmembers, City Superintendents, County Clerk Sprague, County Assessor Annen, County Commissioner Funk and representatives from the Association of Idaho Cities to nail down the City’s budget in the era of COVID-19 and the reassessment of our property taxes. I may be the only one who welcomed the reassessment of our home. I welcomed it because I knew what it meant to our City budget, our employees and the services we are able to provide you. For nearly all of the 14 years that I have served you we have had to rob Peter to pay Paul among the different departments within the City. I know and understand that many feel they are over taxed and underserved; but when I reflect on what we can do without as a community it gets really hard to make much of a list that would return significant dollars back to you as tax payers. I empathize with the argument that folks on a fixed income make. As a teacher in Idaho my family has always lived on a fixed income, one paycheck to the next. Early on hard choices were made between things our kids needed and bills that were past due. I get it; it is really hard, desperately hard, when ends don’t meet. As a community I think we do a very good job in helping and accommodating those truly in need while providing essential services to everyone along with open green spaces to enjoy and relax.
As I tell you this I understand too that every choice is not our own. Things happen or rules are made that prohibit choices. A case in point is in part of a letter that I recently shared with City personnel and the City Council.
I intend to retire as a teacher effective June 30, 2020. According to instruction from PERSI, in order to be eligible to begin collecting my PERSI retirement, I must also resign from my position as Mayor for a period of at least 90 days. The applicable PERSI requirement reads as follows: If the member has not reached service retirement age or is at least 62 years of age (see Statute 59-1341), at the date of last contribution, the member must have a 90-day break in service between the date of last contribution and the part-time reemployment by the same employer. I turned 60 in March of this year, and while I could have retired as a teacher with full PERSI benefits three years ago, I am not of “service retirement age”.
Therefore, it is my intent to resign as Mayor of the City of American Falls effective June 17, 2020. Beginning June 17, I will forward all official correspondence received on my personal cell phone and email to the appropriate numbers and emails as directed by the City Clerk and Council. I can take no action or make any recommendations in regard to calls or emails received after my resignation; I leave that to the duly elected and appointed Council, Clerk, Police Chief, Fire Chief and legal counsel. You have wonderful Superintendents and employees to work with, support them, and they will make you as proud as they have made me.
It has been my honor to serve as your Mayor for the past eight years and the six years prior to that as a City Councilperson. Over the past 14 years I truly believe we, all of us, have made American Falls indeed the very best place to live, raise a family and work. I wish each of you all the best in the days, weeks and months to come.
According to PERSI I can have no association with the City of American Falls or any of its interests for a period of 90 days. I am prohibited from even attending public meetings regarding the City; thus, my extra efforts on the City’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget, the wellbeing of City employees and essential projects that have recently been completed or remain in the works. In speaking with your City Councilmembers about this last week I suggested that they each contribute to this space and provide you with their perspectives; I hope they do.
You remain in good hands my friends and neighbors. Your City Council has had your best interests and needs at heart in every deliberation and decision I have been a part of these last 14 years; that will not change. Like me, they believe that serving is always about the greater we; what we as a community do to change all of our lives for the better; thus assuring that American Falls will always be…
The best place to live…
Postscript: depending on circumstance this column may be suspended should my time become less available.