State of the City Address
2018 State of the City Address
Mayor Brian Blad
Presented January 3, 2019
The number of passengers starting or ending their travels at Pocatello Regional Airport continued to climb in 2018. Looking forward into the New Year, airport staff will continue to look for ways to expand service and will begin the process of updating the master plan. The document will help provide a framework for future growth and help the airport meet the aeronautical needs of East Idaho.
In June, Pocatello Animal Services opened a surgical suite at the shelter. The room features two surgery tables, an exam table, a dental table and a fully equipped preparation and recovery room. With the new equipment, spay and neuter surgeries and other operations are performed on-site for shelter animals.
With the help of The Friends of the Pocatello Animal Shelter, the department was able to continue its run of successful events in 2018. The year’s edition of Splash Dance for Dogs nearly doubled its attendance from the previous year.
The Friends also raised the needed money to have awnings installed on the outdoor dog runs and kennel covers placed on the indoor kennels at the shelter.
In 2019, department staff looks to add a few more events to the calendar and revamp the shelter’s foster program.
The Building Department issued more than 3,300 permits for construction projects around the Gate City. The city saw 125 new apartment units constructed and over 130 single-family and duplex units constructed.
In 2018, the Information Technology Department was successful in bringing fiber-optic connectivity to the Water Pollution Control and Water Operations Facilities as well as Fire Station #2. Staff was successful in moving much of the City’s backup systems to the cloud.
2019 will see the department release a new app to the public as well as continue its fiber effort, bringing it to Pocatello Regional Airport.
For the 14th consecutive year, the Finance Department was awarded the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for their efforts on the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. The certificate is the highest form of recognition in financial reporting and governmental accounting. And for the 13th year, the department was honored with the Award for Outstanding Achievement in Popular Annual Financial Reporting. Finance staff also racked up another accolade after receiving the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award.
The Fire Department purchased three new engines. The new equipment will replace three frontline engines that will now be moved into reserve status. The engines that are currently in reserve will be sold as surplus.
Two additional paramedics were hired and five more trained to respond to medical calls in Pocatello and Bannock County.
Through a partnership with Southeast Idaho Public Health, the department started the “When to Call 911” campaign. The effort aims to help educate citizens on the appropriate time to call for emergency medical services.
The Marshall Public Library made the switch to energy efficient LED lighting in 2018. The new fixtures are projected to save over 180,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity and more than $10,000 per year.
The library also tripled the number of e-books and audiobooks during the course of the year.
In addition to offering nearly 1,000 programs in 2018 to more than 22,000 attendees, the library was also able to expand its Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics offerings.
MAYOR AND COUNCIL
In December, the City Council adopted a hands free ordinance. The ordinance prohibits the use of a mobile device while operating a motor vehicle. Exceptions are provided for using a device while in a “voice-operated or hands free mode,” as a navigational aid, and for emergencies such as contacting 911.
For a second year, Mayor Blad participated in the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation of Health Mayor’s Walking Challenge along with Mayors from across the State. He earned $1000 for logging 10,000 steps or more each day during the month of October. The donations help fund local parks and recreation departments to help with pathways, improving equipment, or helping children become physically active or for local elementary schools to help them purchase physical activity equipment or enhance a walking program.
The Mayor started a Food Pantry Task Force that helps local food pantry providers to better serve their clients through increased knowledge of services available in the community and free education opportunities in topics such as using Department of Labor and financial management.
PARKS AND RECREATION
Parks and Recreation Department employees completed construction on a new, permanent restroom at Lower Ross Park. Located near the Ross Park Aquatic Complex, the facility features two family/American’s With Disabilities Act accessible restrooms, along with separate multi-station men’s and women’s areas.
Zoo Idaho wrapped up their work on three new exhibits for the zoo’s bison, elk, and pronghorn. The new exhibits were specifically design and constructed to allow zoo patrons an “up-close and personal” view of the amazing animals.
In 2019, Parks and Recreation staff plan to add a new concessions building to the Ross Park Aquatic Complex and complete master plans for Zoo Idaho and Ross Park.
PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT SERVICES
In the Planning and Development Services Department, the annexation of the first portion of the planned Northgate Development was completed.
Department staff, along with help from the non-profit Community Builders, held the “Build a Better Block” event in the Terry First corridor. The demonstration project focused on streetscape improvements that foster economic development, support redevelopment, and increase bicycle and pedestrian mobility. The project aims to build a better connection between the campus of Idaho State University, Warehouse District, and Old Town Pocatello.
The City was awarded a $1.5 million grant from HUD to fund the removal of lead-based paint hazards in homes located in the Gate City. So far, one home has been cleared of hazards and four more are nearing completion with the program slated to continue over the coming years.
The Historic Preservation Commission continued their work raising money for new pinnacles atop the Brady Chapel. Right now, the commission anticipates having the funds to complete the repairs in Fiscal Year 2020 through a combination of private donations and grants.
In 2019, staff will be looking to complete amendments to the subdivision, wireless communications facilities, and other land use related city codes.
Officers with the Pocatello Police Department, along with help from other agencies in the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program, continued to be successful in taking drugs off the Gate City’s streets including more than 60 pounds of methamphetamine, nearly two pounds of heroin, and roughly 2.5 pounds of marijuana.
Thanks to a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, officers were able to increase seat belt usage in Pocatello. The mix of enforcement and education used by our officers was the result of a State of Idaho grant.
Officers continued to give back to the community in 2018. They organized events like Shop with a Cop and their annual Turkey Bowl as well as raised money for a family to purchase track shoes for their children and raised money to purchase a bicycle for a child who had their bike stolen.
Construction was completed on the reconfigured Alameda/Jefferson/Pocatello Creek/Hiline intersection. The added safety features of the new design will help reduce the number of accidents and congestion at the intersection.
In June, the Sanitation Department kicked off its glass recycling program. Through a partnership with Momentum Recycling, residents can drop off approved glass items at more than ten dumpsters placed around the community and so far, over 80 tons have been recycled.
The department also expand the yard waste collection program by more than 100 participants. The increased participation has led to the department saving over $10,000 in landfill charges.
Science and Environment Division
2018 saw the beginning stages of the Portneuf River Vision implemented with debris removed from the river. Through the help of businesses and volunteers, the Portneuf from Sacajawea Park to Batiste Road is now almost floatable. Into 2019, a Canoe Trail will be developed with river put-ins installed and more cleanup work completed. The year will also see the division improving the Cusick Creek ATV Trail and performing stream restoration along Pocatello Creek.
Street Operations treated or replaced 30.43 miles of Gate City streets, bringing the three-year total to 103.67 miles. In September, crews wrapped up repairs to the façade of the Center Street Underpass. For their efforts, they were honored with a Beautification Award from the Pocatello/Chubbuck Chamber of Commerce.
In 2019, the Sanitation and Street Operations Departments will be moving to the former Western States Caterpillar building on Garrett Way. The centralized operations will allow the City to realize more efficiencies in the procurement and repair processes.
The Water Department completed mainline replacement projects on Mahogany, Chokecherry, and South Johnson. Work continued on pressure regulation efforts in the Johnny Creek and Highland areas.
The Department’s meter replacement program completed its fourth year and saw more than 2,000 meters replaced with automated meter reading devices. In 2019, the department plans to wrap up the effort with the installation of roughly 1,800 meters.
Water Pollution Control
With the help of Idaho Power, the Water Pollution Control facility reduced its power consumption equivalent to 17 homes. Through the Wastewater Energy Efficiency Cohort, staff was shown how to identify and implement energy-conserving opportunities.
In December, the primary clarifier discharge line at the facility was replaced. The 30-inch line connects the primary systems in the plant to secondary treatment, where nutrient removal takes place.
The number of passengers on Pocatello Regional Transit’s buses was up to more than 293,000 people in 2018.
The new 7th and Sherman Bus Transfer Station opened to Pocatello Regional Transit’s passengers and provides a blueprint for future projects. The stop features new sidewalks and crosswalks, Americans with Disabilities Act compliant ramps, a stormwater retention area, and a new fence.
Transit also added its first ever, mobile service unit. Purchased from the City’s Water Department and then outfitted with new equipment using federal funding, it’s now feasible to service any Transit vehicle from any location.
In 2019, PRT looks to be adding seven new buses and two passenger vans to the fleet. Three of the vehicles will be used by the rural program and purchased using an Idaho Department of Environmental Quality grant. The six others will be utilized by the urban program for fixed route and door-to-door service.