City Council Meeting - 11.14.22

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Monday night saw a rather long City Council meeting ensue in the council chambers. The meeting began in a packed chambers, with those in attendance present for a number of reasons.

All council members and the mayor were present and the meeting began with award presentations from the Parks and Recreation Director. Awards were being given to those who volunteered time at the Spooktacular downtown even prior to Halloween as well as those who won various contests including the scarecrow stroll event. Special thanks was given to the City of Mountain Home and the Elmore County citizens on patrol for their exceptional work keeping all those in attendance out of harms way.

Following this, the council heard from department heads. Fire Chief Moore noted that calls are creeping up, as is typical of this time of year. Interim-at-the-time Police Chief Thompson reported that his department was halfway through their active shooter training. Library Director Shasta Hochstrasser highlighted the work her employees have been putting in during the holiday season, and gave a general update on a handful of events that the library is providing to the public. Community Development Director Brock Cherry announced to the council that he has been in talks with the College of Western Idaho regarding the possibility of providing members of the general public to be given passes to access and participate in off-campus college courses held on the Air Force base.

The council followed department head reports by approaching the consent agenda. Most items on the agenda were approved, only a few were pulled from the consent agenda in order to be clarified or postponed. One of the action items regarded the future of an orange Camaro owned by the police department. It was noted by councilmembers as well as officers that the vehicle is not practical for use as a law enforcement vehicle. In a similar sentiment, Police Chief Thompson noted, “Frankly, I’m ready to move on from this vehicle”. The city appears ready to proceed with placing the vehicle up for auction setting a minimum price based on an appraisal of the vehicle’s value.

Next, the council welcomed interim Police Chief John Thompson to stand in front of the council and mayor. Chief Thompson gave a brief but meaningful speech about his short and long term goals for the police department, as well as citing his gratitude for the support of the community, his family, and his wife. After Chief Thompson’s remarks were concluded, the council voted unanimously to approve his appointment and he was sworn in by the city clerk.

Following this, the mayor took a moment to thank Lieutenant Russel Griggs for serving the community of Mountain Home as an officer for 24 years. Griggs is retiring on the 21st of this month.

The council moved on to new business hearing first from representatives and council members for the Shosone-Pauite tribe. These individuals came to speak to the city about their proposed casino project. A presentation regarding the project was given to the council and others in attendance. The presentation lacked specificity surrounding the logistics behind the project. At one point, the attorney giving the presentation was caught off guard when it was brought to his attention that two of four zones of potential casino property in his presentation are already spoken for and therefore not available for purchase.

Despite this, Brian Mason, the tribe’s chairman, proceeded to speak to the city council, contending that the Shoshone-Paiute tribe has a greater right to a casino in Mountain Home than any other tribe, namely the Shoshone-Bannock tribe. Mason even went as far as to compare his tribe to Ukraine and the Shoshone-Bannock tribe to Russia. Additionally, Mason claimed that the Sho-Ban tribe is “grandfathered in”, and claimed that contrarily, his tribe is already paying taxes, going as far as to say, “We’re paying this county a shitload of money”.

After the presentation, council members were given an opportunity to ask questions to the representatives present. Questions touched on a variety of topics, one of the most pressing however, was the question of taxes. The presentation given by a Shoshone-Paiute legal representative suggested that payment in lieu of taxes (PILT) would be given to the county, not direct taxes, assuming the property was ultimately deemed sovereign. However Mason appeared to argue that direct taxes would be paid. Ultimately, the council asked that the meeting proceed forward. The rest of the new business saw the approval of the Blue Yonder subdivision preliminary plat and conditional use permit. It also saw a denial of a mobile food concession yard named “Johnny on the Rocks” on American Legion. Finally, the council elected to postpone making a decision on waiving a fiber connection fee for the Mountain Home Senior Citizen Center until a formal request was received by the city.

Following public comment, the meeting was adjourned.

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