Hayden's "Law Enforcement Levy" Gambit

    Until recently, Hayden's “Public Safety“ budget has been maintained at inadequate levels.  To confront the problem, a “Citizen’s Task Force” was commissioned and the group put forth a proposal for a “Law Enforcement Levy" to be placed on the November ballot.

    The advocates of this levy are anxious to promote it as a vote in favor of law-enforcement, justice, law-and-order, and democracy.  Opponents “don't support law enforcement ”, and want to  “taking away people's voice”.   Evidently there is no acceptable reason for Hayden residents to oppose a city-wide tax increase.   

    Yet resistance remains.  It may therefore be a good idea to clarify our position. We favor an increase in Hayden’s contribution to the Sheriff's department, but believe that the allocation should come from the city’s general funds, NOT a levy.

    The City has already tried to raise taxes to fund law enforcement TWICE, in 2018 and again in 2019.    Both efforts failed.  But this does not mean that citizens don’t want to fund Law Enforcement—it only means, they see no reason their taxes need to be increased to provide basic services.   Residents don't see law enforcement as a "discretionary" item, and they don't want to be gamed by their city government.  

    To make a third attempt to tie Law Enforcement funding to a Tax increase is preposterous.  What will the city do if the Levy Fails?  Continue to provide inadequate funding?  No of course not.  

    The current City Council has already committed to a $300K increase for 2022, and all four council members have vocally supported raising Hayden’s contribution to the Sheriff’s department.  There is every reason to believe that the new council members intend to prioritize L.E. in future budgets, with or without Tax increases.   

    Why then put the residents of Hayden through the absurd drama of having to vote on a levy for law enforcement a third time?   

    It almost seems that city administrators are so determined to increase their Base Budget that they have kept Hayden’s “Public Safety” allocation artificially low in order to provide a plausible justification for raising taxes.  “More Money for Law Enforcement” is a much more attractive motivator for raising taxes than Sewer upgrades, or remodeling City Hall.  (Not hyperbole.  Hayden plans to do a major remodel of City Hall; no levy required.

    There are other reasons that the proposed Levy appears to be a new attempt to raise Hayden city taxes using Law Enforcement as a Stalking Horse.  Most interesting is the makeup of the  “Citizen’s Task Force" that recommended the levy. 

    The Citizen’s Task Force

    In March of 2022, Hayden city administrators *reconvened* a Citizen’s Task Force and asked them to study local crime statistics and to advise the city council regarding funding levels for law enforcement. It was agreed that the group would deliver its report on June 1st, well ahead of the June/July budget discussions.

    Most people without prior knowledge of Task Force activities did not expect them to suggest a Levy.  Two previous levies had recently failed.   Why risk another levy failure?   Why not just suggest funding levels that city officials could use to provide from general funds? 

    But instead of providing the Council with information and suggestions prior to budget negotiations, the Task Force chose to barrel ahead with a levy request—at the last possible minute.  They delayed their report until August and then demanded an immediate up/down vote by the city council on the issue of placing the levy on the November ballot.   No time was allowed to suggest alternatives. Just impassioned pleas to “support law enforcement”,  and “give people a voice”  The histrionics were quite impressive!

    Those council members who had not attended the Task Force meetings were blind-sided by the request, while those who had prior knowledge were supportive.  The task force leaders wanted 100% support, and when a single council member dared to dissent, the grand-standing began in earnest.  

    Support of a tax increase was once again conflated with support of law enforcement.   Anyone who opposed relying on a levy to fund deputies was branded as anti-law-enforcement, anti-democratic, and disrespectful of the work of the Citizens’ task force. 

    This confusing turn of events becomes understandable once one investigates the origin of the “Citizen’s Task Force”.   What was obvious to “insiders”, but invisible to casual observers, was that the Task Force charged with advising the City on funding levels, was actually the same task force formed in 2019 to help the city promote an “increase the base budget from property taxes”.   The group was originally commissioned as the “Citizen Task Force for Base Budget Needs” (CTFBBN), and its explicit purpose was to help the city justify a tax increase.

    With a few minor changes in personnel, the “Citizen task force” that recommended a tax increase for Law Enforcement, was CTFBBN, a hand-picked group of pro-tax advocates, and  their decision to demand a third Levy for Law Enforcement was inevitable.  

    HURA and the Dog that Didn't Bark

    Another thing that troubles critics of Hayden's Law Enforcement Levy is that a leading Member of the “Citizen Task Force” that insisted on the Levy is a director of HURA, the Hayden Urban Renewal Agency. Redevelopment agencies, such as HURA are  controversial because they redirect public tax dollars to benefit developers.   HURA is funded directly by property taxes so having its Director lead a “Citizen’s Task Force” that recommends a tax increase for any purpose, is a screamingly obvious conflict of interest.

    The whole topic of HURA and it relationship to Property Tax rates in Hayden is a complicated subject, but the fact that so many members of Hayden’s current government see no problem with this type of flagrant self-dealing is a HUGE red flag, with or without an L.E. Levy.     The City Administrator and Council Members involved in the Task Force were well aware of how much HURA benefits from property tax increases, but were not concerned in the least.  No one on the task force raised the issue or saw a problem.  Which begs the question, what ELSE are your city officials NOT seeing.  (Although one council member, who opposes the levy, has been outspoken about the problem.)  

    Opposing the Levy is NOT Opposing Law Enforcement

    It is a disservice to the City Council, to Sheriff Norris, and to the Citizens of Hayden to frame the vote on increasing property Taxes in Hayden as an up-or-down vote on supporting Law Enforcement.  It is nothing of the sort.    All members of the current City Council have expressed their willingness to increase support for law enforcement, and Hayden citizens should NOT have to choose between basic services and increased taxes.

    The fact is, funding L.E. from a dedicated levy is not viable over the long term and it does not address the REAL Public Safety issues facing Hayden.  Hayden's future need for law enforcement will depend on the type and rate of growth that the city undergoes. And over the long term, Hayden's biggest threat to “Public Safety” is the atrocious 2040 “Comprehensive Plan”  that puts it on a collision course with many evils associated with rapid growth and densification.   

    Public Safety is More than Law Enforcement.

    As long as Hayden remains a suburban-rural community, it can maintain is current low crime rate.   But the new Comp Plan provides for a far denser and more threatening kind of growth that is unwanted by current residents.  The proliferation of high density rentals, public transit, and “affordable housing”, is the quickest way to increase crime, weaken community, and increase the need for “social services” in an area, and the New Comp Plan is a greater threat to “Public Safety” in Hayden, than an understaffed sheriff’s department ever could be.

    And to add insult to injury, this highly controversial “Plan” for wrecking Hayden was developed between 2018 and 2020 at a cost of over $500K, at the exact same time Hayden was under funding law enforcement, and trying to raise Taxes.  As the table below shows, all funds necessary to finance the new “Comp Plan” were transferred from the City’s “Public Works” Budget to “General Administration,” where it was used to pay an army of consultants, attorneys, and planners.

    Strangely, the Hayden residents were never given a "chance to vote” on whether or not they wanted to pay globalist apparatchiks to ruin their city.  

    It is hard to avoid the conclusion that Hayden’s repugnant 2040 Comp Plan was paid for with monies that could have and should have gone to law enforcement, and it is almost certain that the same elements of Hayden City’s government who hijacked L.E. funds to pay for unwanted growth, are still up to their old tricks. 

    Don't play into their hands.   Vote DOWN Hayden's Law Enforcement "Hostage" Levy, and force the City Council to do what is right to for the Sheriff and the citizens of Hayden. 

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    NOTE:  We at Save Hayden strive to be as truthful as possible in our reporting of controversial issues.   If anyone can provide specific examples of inaccuracies in any of our articles, please provide us with the necessary information and we will gladly make corrections.  Thanks!



    Nancy Jones says (Sep 4, 2022):

    There are a lot of half truths and some outright false information here. I hope voters will dig deeper in trying to understand this issue.


    Ed DePriest says (Sep 5, 2022):

    A lot of spin, with behind the scenes self interests of individuals who don't want to be identified, which I also find interesting. Why the anonymity? Please identify who this group is. I know, but this comment will most likely be deleted if I identify them. Interesting that the talking points sound a lot like certain council members talking points? I know that a certain individual during the campaign advocated to cut Parks and Rec to fund the Sheriff. I have asked multiple times for specifics of what departments and, or who, will lose their jobs to fund the Sheriff? Hayden has, by far, the lowest tax rate in the area. The task force was advertised and anyone who wished had the opportunity to participate. The meetings were open. By the way,,, try being honest. That $300K is one time money that won't be available after this year and the increase will take affect the following year. The council simply is giving the people the opportunity to have a voice. That voice that the author claims is denied the people. If enough people care to vote and it gets 60%, then it passes. If not, then it won't. Please be very specific as to what you want cut in the budget. Again, not a bunch of half truths, telling only what you want the people to know. And again, I challenge the leaders of this group to come out and identify themselves, or I will!!


    Summer Bushnell says (Sep 5, 2022):

    Keep in mind that Nancy Jones headed up the Task Force that recommended this levy. Ed DePriest is a Hayden City Councilman who seems to get upset with people with different opinions than his own. This levy was pushed before in 2018-19 and here it is again. It will be a 29% tax increase for Hayden residents. Do you want your taxes increased due to at least a decade of mismanagement of the Hayden City budget? 1) Bad ideas don't belong on the ballot. For example the attempt to make the sheriff appointed not elected with the Optional forms of government issue. 2) Law Enforcement is more important than Parks and Rec. Honestly why isn't Parks ad Rec. paying for itself. 3) This isn't a law enforcement levy if Hayden Urban Renewal gets money from this levy. Where is HURA offering to give money towards a sub-station, etc.?


    Ed DePriest says (Sep 5, 2022):

    No Summer, I have a problem with people who spread misinformation and delete and block people who rebut the misinformation. For people who claim to want transparency and are against censoring, there sure seems to be a lot of it going on, on pages and sites like Bushnell Report and Hayden Happenings? Why don’t you want any facts that contradict what you put out to the people so that they can research the entire issue? Who is the admin and involved with those pages? So much for the 1st Amendment and Freedom of Speech, until it is not what fits the propaganda machine. This is about the people having the opportunity to vote. If you look at the Rec dept., they do bring in a lot of revenue. This fixation on HURA is simply anti- government, anti-tax, anti- anything that is not on the agenda of the new influx of people who want to bring THEIR definition of conservatism to north Idaho. I already hear those wanting to get rid of HURA asking that HURA fund road and infrastructure projects,,, as they have been. And, the task force didn’t “demand” anything. They recommended. If certain members of the council were intellectually honest, they would admit that much, if not most, of the information provided to the task force was also provided to the council when Sheriff Norris addressed council multiple times. The same monthly reports. The same requests from the Sheriff regarding staffing and costs, etc… All of that was provided to the council. There were no secrets, or, as seems to be the fear mongering go to: conspiracies by the task force or anyone else. You don’t want it? Great! If you live in Hayden, vote no. Do you live in Hayden? That’s what makes this country great. But have enough honesty and integrity to tell the truth, and not prevent the facts that you don’t like from being given to the people so that they can research them for themselves. North Idaho has been strongly conversative for the almost 30 years that I have been here. It was running fine until the last couple of years when those fleeing here brought their fear mongering that liberals are taking our Rights away and taking over. Nothing of the sorts is happening. North Idaho is as conservative as ever. Please tell me what Rights have been taken away? Please tell me where any government entity has forced anyone to do something, or not, that they have the Right to do, or not. Private businesses, as they have the Right, may have required employees and customers to do things, but the government hasn’t. I am as free as I have ever been and no one has taken any of my Rights, or forced me to do anything I don’t want to do. And you know very well, that very early in the Alternative Form of Government issue, the Sheriff being appointed came off of the table. That whole thing was about a certain group being afraid that if two or more County Commissioners were added, that group might have a more difficult time ensuring that their ideologues were in the majority. Please get with your posse and give specific budget cuts to come up with the additional funds to staff two deputies on duty in Hayden at all times? What department gets cut, or staff lose their jobs? Do you want to cut Recreation programs, which serve primarily children? Do you want to cut Park maintenance, again which serves the entire city, but primarily children? Do you want to cut the Road department? Do you want to reduce snow plowing? Hayden has, by far, the lowest taxes and run on a very thin budget, so please tell me specifically where you want to cut? I know, take from the surplus/rainy day fund, because there is no possibility that we are going to end up in a recession soon? I love it. When people don’t get their way, or are outvoted, they go through the back door to basically sabotage the opportunity for the people to give their voice. If it passes, great. If it doesn’t, that’s the way it goes. But at least the people have the opportunity to make the decision. Just like the Alternative Forms issue, your group wants to determine what gets to the people and who gets to vote on what. Why are you so afraid of the masses voting. Even though you’d like to, your group doesn’t get to control everything.


    Doude Bos says (Sep 7, 2022):

    After reading the very lengthy rant above, I agree that there are a number of half-truths and a lot of misleading information. For instance, there are more than one member on HURA - one actually voted against this levy due to the number of officers and not against the levy itself. Where does the general fund come from? Is it collected from our taxes? Also, all of this angry ranting and over-generalized accusations against people who are working hard to help direct Hayden turns people away from joining your group. This group could be so valuable and make a real difference, but many people don't want to be affiliated with a radical, angry mob. I believe you all have good intentions, but not a positive way of expressing your views or representing a positive direction. I don't think you keep the lines of communication open with the city officials and staff by attacking everyone and making negative assumptions about them. Sorry, I hope you all can regroup so you can make a positive change for the future.


    Debbie Bos says (Sep 7, 2022):

    Actually, the comment above was by Debbie and not Doude - sorry for the confusion.


    johnspe says (Sep 7, 2022):

    Too much 'spin' and half-truths to make your point. Speak the Truth, don't be like Washington D.C. !

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