Speaking before an audience of more than 900 people at the Boise Centre convention facility, Mayor Bieter said that the city’s economic competitiveness depends on providing the services and amenities that talented business owners and workers expect for themselves and their families. Boise is in danger of falling behind on police and fire facilities, parks, libraries, and Foothills open space, the mayor said, and needs citizen input to determine which projects are the highest priority.
Mayor Bieter specified no timeline for an election but said he believes that a comprehensive package of improvements can be assembled that would cost a homeowner only $19 a year – less than the price of a night at the movies. Bond elections raise revenue through an assessment on property taxes and require a two-thirds majority approval.
“We know what a tremendous value these kinds of improvements are,” the mayor said in remarks prepared for the speech. “The neighborhood libraries and community centers that we’ve opened in the past several years, the whitewater and Marianne Williams Parks – they tell the world who we are and what we value, and they keep us competitive. And we need to stay that way.”
Mayor Bieter also called on government and business to work more collaboratively to create an “ecosystem of innovation” by investing in high-knowledge industries that support the kinds of jobs Boise needs. He noted that the Greenhouse, a business incubator launched by the city and Boise State University, has seen several companies graduate in just a few years; “imagine what level of success we could have with an effort five or ten times the scale of the Greenhouse.”
“If we sit and passively wait for our future to arrive, we will simply miss out,” the mayor said. “We need to work together, all of us, to pull the future to us.”
Mayor Bieter noted that Boise is celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2013 but said the city also made history during the past year. In particular, he cited three accomplishments:
- The City Council’s unanimous approval of an ordinance prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. “Boise welcomes smart ideas, no matter who has them; we value hard work, no matter who does it; and we judge people on their positive contributions, not on others’ negative stereotypes.”
- The “hole in the ground,” a downtown site that has sat vacant since Ronald Reagan was president, has been filled with the new Eighth and Main tower, set for completion in early 2014.
- Micron’s new fabrication facility, which the company said was the fastest and most cost-effective project of its kind in the world thanks to the close collaboration with the city’s Department of Planning and Development Services.
In April, Boise became one of the smallest cities ever to the Davis Cup quarterfinals. Mayor Bieter praised the community for its support of the event and presented the Key to the City to Greg Patton, Boise State University’s men’s tennis coach, who was largely responsible for making the event happen.