Hayden City Council Approves Vague, Permanent Public Safety Commission Instead of Police Study
During the October 10, 2023 City Council meeting, the Council directed City staff to begin the process of creating a public safety commission for the purpose of determining if Hayden should and could create its own police force instead of using the Sheriff’s Department. Council’s main complaint against continuing to use KCSO, besides rising costs, is that the council does not know how many hours the deputies are actually spending within Hayden city limits doing Hayden-focused work, and the Sheriff refuses to put third-party trackers, controlled by the city, on county patrol vehicles. This left a sour taste in the mouths of some councilman so they requested to put another safety commission together with the purpose to see if it is feasible to create a Hayden police force.
The ordinance that staff brought forward at last Tuesday’s City Council meeting, however, did not include the commission looking through budgets to see if a Hayden police force was feasible. The ordinance brought forth was to create a permanent public safety commission with 3-year term appointments and a vague description of the roles and responsibilities:
Act in an advisory capacity to the City Council in matters pertaining to public safety including police law enforcement, fire, emergency medical services, and other areas wherein the matter of public safety may be of concern; specifically, review statistic data and other information concerning public safety;
Recommend policies and procedures with respect to the foregoing for approval by the City Council;
Perform such other tasks that may be expressly requested of by the City Council.
Not quite what the public was anticipating for this commission.
In the meeting, Councilwoman Sandy White asked if the ordinance could include the following language:
2-9-3 D. A verbal report of the meeting by a representative and a copy of the draft minutes will be given to the City Council within 30 days of each meeting. In addition to that, the commission meetings will also be video recorded and put on the city's YouTube channel.
That request was subsequently denied by the rest of the council because the council did not want to spend the money to have someone record the meeting to upload to YouTube (it would cost $300/meeting since the staff who was hired to record for the city never seems to be available whenever these meetings will be scheduled in the future). White’s response to this argument was that the council and public did not have accurate information about the levy study commission meetings before the public safety levy vote and she does not want that to happen again – especially because this new commission is supposed to decide about an entire new police force that could drastically change the city. Nope. Still denied.
The council also gave the excuse that they didn’t need to have the minutes, draft or approved, because “the council at any time can request a commission member to come to the city council meeting and verbally give a report.” Again Sandy White used the levy public safety commission as an example of not having adequate information in a timely manner before making decisions. Again, denied.
Ordinance was approved 3-1 (White as the no) and the commission will be formed.
The public was left scratching their heads as to the purpose of this commission other than to waste more time and city resources; the mayor didn’t do the council or staff any favors when he spoke with KXLY stating that the purpose of the commission is to “make sure that funding for police is spent properly…Be some sort of oversight commission to take a look at how that money is being spent. And taking a look at various types of incidents and the amount of response, the hours spent and analyzing that perhaps to look at a future direction for the law enforcement needs that we have.”
Is this the new version of the Kootenai County Optional Forms of Government?
The commission has not had anyone appointed to it yet (for a 3-year term) and meetings have not been scheduled. There will be no record of these meetings except in the vague minutes kept and random reports given to the city council, so the public will have to attend these meetings to understand where this commission is going. Check back when those meetings are scheduled.
Other Information From the November 14 Hayden City Council Meeting
Hayden Urban Renewal District Expansion Open House Planning
During the October 24, 2023 city council meeting, the Council discussed the Hayden Urban Renewal Agency’s recommendation to expand the existing Hayden Urban Renewal District. During this discussion, the council expressed a desire to hold an open house to gauge the public’s opinion of expanding the district.
Staff came back with two possible dates: Thursday, November 30 or Tuesday, December 5. After a bit of discussion, the council approved the Hayden Urban Renewal Expansion Open House for Tuesday, December 5 from 4-7pm.
Welch Comer Engineers Professional Services Agreement for Hayden Urban Renewal District Expansion Open House
This item was originally on the consent agenda until Councilwoman Sandy White asked to have it removed so they could discuss it further.
The city wants to pay Welch Comer Engineers $860 to produce three (3) posterboards for the Urban Renewal Open House to show the public what would be expanded. Those posterboard would include the areas that are the options based on the Capital Improvement Plan that was approved by Council three months ago, to be color coded with the potential areas and description of each area.
The City Council decided that THIS was the best point in the agenda to ask how the open house would be conducted and how the public will actually give input into the expansion, instead of using the previous agenda item as it should have been used. Turns out the best way to get public input is by notecards that they can turn into the city staff.
When council directed staff to set up the open house, they said it was to get input on the projects and areas which they would want to expand. The Council implied through Tuesday’s discussions that this open house was not to have the public comment on whether or not they feel HURA should be expanded, it is WHERE to expand HURA.
After a motion was made to pay Welch Comer $860 to make 3 posterboards, Matt Roetter suggested they try to get HURA to pay this cost as it directly affected their commission. The mayor said they can “certainly approach them with this” but that was the end of the discussion. No matter which Hayden-funded group is ultimately paying, the council agreed to give $860 to Welch Comer to make only 3 posterboards.
Arts Commission Request for Support of Public Art in Roundabouts Project
Arts Commissioner Davalu Cummings came before the council to ask if they wanted the Arts Commission to continue to pursue art in the middle of four proposed roundabouts within the city at Hayden/Atlas, Hayden/Ramsey, Ramsey/Honeysuckle, and Honeysuckle/4th St. This endeavor originated from a former Arts Commission but never moved forward; the current group wanted to hear the Council’s thoughts on if they should pursue artwork in the roundabouts and, if so, if the council will fund it or if they should look for private donors.
The Council motioned to give the Arts Commission permission to move forward with pursuing art in the four roundabouts; motion approved. The Council then motioned to let the Arts Commission know that they can come back to them during budget season to ask for money. Not sure why they needed a formal motion for any of these points but the motions were approved.
One Place Church Annexation Request
One Place Church bought property on the Northwest corner of Prairie and Heutter. This agenda item was NOT added for the church property to be annexed but staff thought it was appropriate to waste city council’s time by making them pass a motion to give permission to One Place Church to start pursuing annexation into Hayden. No joke. This was an entire agenda item, presentation and discussion. Now One Place Church has permission from the council to start looking into annexing their property into the city of Hayden.