2019 State of the City Address
Mayor Brian Blad
Presented January 2, 2020

 

Pocatello Mayor Brian Blad (photo credit: City of Pocatello website)

AIRPORT

In 2019, Pocatello Regional Airport completed a hardstand parking location for the large, firefighting aircraft that use Pocatello as a base of operations. Now, the airport is able to support multiple tankers if need be.

A taxiway project was completed near the nine, city-owned hangers at the airport. The project re-routed utilities in the area and will help accommodate more hangers in the future.

This past fall, the airport hosted a full-scale emergency exercise on the airfield. Twelve different agencies participated in the Federal Aviation Administration required exercise and allowed each group the chance to practice how they would respond to an actual emergency.

As for 2020, the airport will continue to explore ways to expand services from Pocatello, develop a master plan for the airfield, and expand the art displays inside the terminal as well as the Kizuna Japanese Garden.

ANIMAL SERVICES

Pocatello Animal Services was able to find forever homes for more than 500 dogs and over 700 cats during 2019. Thanks to the Best Friends Animal Society and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, fee-waived adoption events were held last year that resulted in the adoption of every cat and kitten at the shelter in less than a week and 13 dogs finding a home in just a few hours.

Along with providing reduced fee adoptions over four months of 2019, The Friends of the Pocatello Animal Shelter helped add more awnings and new fencing to the dog runs at the shelter. Thanks to the support of the City Council, a full-time Veterinary Technician was also added to Animal Services staff and the department’s animal control officers received a new truck and kennel transport system.

BUILDING

The Building Department issued over 3,000 building permits with a combined valuation of nearly $104 million in 2019. The city saw more than 40 new apartment units constructed and over 100 single-family and duplex units constructed.

In August, the department debuted ProjectDox. With ProjectDox, contractors, developers, and residents can upload building plans electronically, saving them a trip to City Hall. The platform also allows builders and City officials to communicate back and forth on any changes or updates to plans that are needed.

FINANCE

The Finance Department earned the Distinguished Budget Award from the Government Finance Officers Association for the second year in a a row. In order to receive the award, the City of Pocatello had to meet nationally recognized guidelines for the budget presentation that are designed to determine how well the budget serves as a policy document, financial plan, operations guide, and communications device.

During 2020, the department will be assisting in the switch to electronic timekeeping for City employees and helping to implement a new online transaction platform.

FIRE

For the fifth consecutive year, the Pocatello Fire Department and Bannock County Ambulance District were recognized by the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline program. The award highlights emergency medical services that provide outstanding cardiac care to patients.

This past summer, the department added a Fire Prevention Jeep to its fleet thanks to a donation from Idaho Central Credit Union and other businesses. Similar to the the Police Department’s D.A.R.E. Jeep, the vehicle can be seen around the community and helps start the conversation with residents about topics like the importance of smoke alarms, fall prevention, fireworks safety, and more.

In 2020, the department will be working to implement recommendations from the recently completed master plan.

HUMAN RESOURCES

In 2019, Human Resources added webinar training opportunities for City employees, updated City policies, and started the Police Department’s Employee Assistance program. During the year, three employees received certifications from the International Public Management Association for Human Resources.

For 2020, the department will be implementing the new employee timekeeping system and rolling out the Management Training program for City supervisors.

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

The Information Technology Department debuted the new City app, Pocatello Connect, in 2019. The app features a streamlined service request process, allowing residents who see a concern to immediately report the issue to the City. Residents are also able to upload a picture or video with the request. Beyond just service requests, the app also allows people to register for Parks and Recreation Department programs, apply for City jobs, receive notifications, and more.

The department also assisted in the transition to new Cemetery management software.
Looking ahead to 2020, the IT Department will be helping to implement digital timeclocks for City employees, a new online transaction management platform, and refreshing the City of Pocatello website.

MARSHALL PUBLIC LIBRARY

During the course of 2019, the Marshall Public Library more than doubled the number of e-books checked out from the library. In terms of physical books, the first full year of the Speedy Reader Kits proved popular with patrons. The kits allow readers to check out an entire book series for six weeks.

The library partnered with the Idaho State-Civic Symphony to offer Arts and Community Tickets to patrons. The program provides two tickets to a symphony concert during the 2019-2020 season and a bookmark with reading recommendations related to the particular performance.

The exterior of the library received a bit of TLC in 2019 with the brickwork undergoing restoration and protection efforts.

In 2020, the library will be looking to expand its adult programs, add to its e-book collection, and grow the Arts and Community Ticket offerings to include other cultural opportunities in the community. The library will also be looking to improve the interior of the library with upgrades slated for the children’s area.

MAYOR AND COUNCIL

In September, the City Council adopted a mission statement and values statements for the City. The declarations help to guide decisions by elected officials, City leaders, and employees. The statements were developed with the help of Dr. Jim DiSanza and Dr. John Gribas from Idaho State University.

Throughout the year, the Mayor and Council attended joint meetings with the City of Chubbuck, Bannock County, School District #25, and Idaho State University to better coordinate activities and efforts.

For 2020, the City will be continuing its efforts with Idaho State University to develop a College Town Charter, formalizing the positive working relationship between the City and University. The City will also be surveying ISU students to determine their needs within walking distance of campus.

PARKS AND RECREATION

2019 was a year of construction in the Parks and Recreation Department.

At Zoo Idaho, the new wetlands exhibit was completed. As the vegetation at the exhibit matures, the wetlands will transform the upper level of Zoo Idaho and attract new wildlife species such as trumpeter swans, sandhill crane, grey heron, and more.

A new concession building opened for business at the Ross Park Aquatic Complex. The Ross Park Drive Inn is operating the concessions booth for the City and pool-goers are now able to order some of the restaurant’s most popular items without leaving the facility.

In 2020, the department plans to resurface the pool at the Ross Park Aquatic Complex and bring master plans for Ross Park and Zoo Idaho to the City Council for their consideration.

PLANNING & DEVELOPMENT SERVICES

In October 2019, the Planning and Development Services Department took home a Public Outreach Award from the Idaho Chapter of the American Planning Association for its work on Terry First. Culminating in August of 2018, the Terry First project worked with local residents and business owners to create a vision for the Terry Street/South First Avenue corridor that will spur economic development, support redevelopment, increase bicycle and pedestrian mobility, and improve the connection between Idaho State University and Old Town Pocatello.

The Community Development Block Grant program completed sidewalk rehabilitation projects on the corner of West Bonneville Street and South Johnson Avenue as well as along West Wyeth Street.

Meanwhile, the Lead Safe and Healthy Homes program completed 18 lead hazard control projects in 2019. Through the program, which is funded by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, low to moderate income Pocatellans are eligible to have lead-based paint hazards in their home removed for free.

Adding to the Historic Preservation Commission’s slate of successful events such as Stones to Stories and the Brady Chapel open houses, the group will be hosting the statewide Idaho Historic Preservation Conference on the campus of Idaho State University in September 2020.

POLICE

In addition to working several major cases in 2019, the Police Department was active in the community. Officers participated in Handcuff Hunger and Give the Cops a Bird food drives, Secret Santa and Shop with a Cop programs, more than 200 speaking engagements, and more.

The department was also recognized for spearheading a critical incident and reunification exercise by Campus Safety magazine. The exercise marked the first time a full-scale reunification drill had been held in Idaho.

In the next year, the department will be working towards the Dispatch Division being certified as an accredited Center of Excellence through the National/International Academies of Emergency Dispatch, the implementation of body cameras, and having one car per officer.

PUBLIC WORKS

Engineering Department

The Engineering Department completed design for the Hawthorne/Quinn intersection project with construction slated for 2023. The Benton Street Bridge project wrapped up with crews rehabilitating the substructure of the bridge by reinforcing the concrete with carbon fiber wrapping, installing a corrosion protection system, and repairing the column footings below ground. Staff also assisted in the Griffith Street sewer, Sleepy Hollow lift station, Fairgrounds sewer projects as well as other Water Department and Water Pollution Control efforts.

In 2020, the department is planning to begin construction on sidewalk improvements on 4th and 5th Avenue, design of the Carson Street Bridge project, and more.

Fleet Services Department

2019 was the first full year of operation for the new Fleet Services Department and in July, an open house was held at the Public Works Annex located on Garrett Way. The department centralizes vehicle maintenance for the Street Operations and Sanitation Departments as well as departments located at City Hall.

Sanitation Department

The Sanitation Department’s glass recycling program expanded in 2019. Because of the popularity of the Albertsons drop-off location, the department made the switch from a 3-year container to a 17-yard container. In total, more than 170 tons of glass were recycled through the program.

Science and Environment Division

2019 saw the Science and Environment Division host the first-ever Poky Portneuf Paddle. The event drew more than 1,000 people to float the Portneuf River on their tubes, kayaks, canoes, or stand-up paddleboards from the Edson Fichter Nature Area or Taysom Rotary Park to Centennial Park.

The division also completed streambank restoration work at Sacajawea Park and trail improvements on the Cusick Creek Trail.

The new year will see employees continuing their efforts at streambank restoration along Pocatello Creek and the installation of interpretative signage along spots of the Portneuf River. The division will also continue its work on the Portneuf River Vision by improving river put-ins and additional clean-up work.

Street Operations Department

The Street Operations Department treated more than 30 miles of Pocatello’s roads during the year, bringing its five-year total to just over 175 miles. The repairs lead to the City’s Pavement Condition Index score ticking up to 77.1.

Water Department

The Water Department replaced nearly two miles of water main during 2019. At the Riverside Golf Course, the department installed a surge tank to reduce high-pressure waves during the start-up and shutdown of the course’s irrigation system.

The department completed its fifth and final year of replacing meters with new, automated meter reading devices. The devices help improve the efficiency, accuracy, and reliability of meter readings for customers. Additionally, the new meters improve the City’s ability to read meters during the winter months and aid customers in identifying leaks quickly.
2020 will see the department continue the design of a new booster station and transmission line in the Highland area as well as water line replacement projects on South Lincoln Street, South 3rd Avenue, East Dunn Street, Gould Street, and more.

Water Pollution Control Department

The Water Pollution Control Department upgraded the Sublette Lift Station and installed a larger sewer line on Griffith Street in anticipation of increased flows from the Northgate Development.

In total, the department treated over 1.2 billion gallons of wastewater, removing over 99 percent of contaminants. As part of its annual maintenance of the City’s sewer system, crews camera-inspected over 10 miles of sewer lines.

TRANSIT

The number of passengers on Pocatello Regional Transit’s buses climbed to more than 284,000 people in 2019.

The department added seven new buses and two accessible passenger vans to the fleet. Three of the vehicles are being used by the rural program and were purchased using an Idaho Department of Environmental Quality grant at no cost to the City. The urban program is using the six other buses for fixed route and door-to-door service.

In 2020, PRT is looking to add four new buses to the fleet. The vehicles will be split between the urban and rural programs.

Similar to the 7th and Sherman Bus Transfer Station, PRT will break ground on the Day at Grant bus stop improvement project. Improved features will include new Americans with Disabilities Act compliant ramps, sidewalk renovations, and a bus shelter.

UTILITY BILLING

In 2019, the Utility Billing Department began offering the WaterSmart platform to customers. The software platform allows customers to see information about their water usage, such as average gallons used per day, historical use over a two-year period, and more. Customers are able to see estimated use from household water fixtures and appliances as well as access money-saving tips that will help residents conserve water and their cash. Customers can also input information about their home and WaterSmart will provide customized advice depending on possible sources of water usage.

OTHER

We also celebrated the opening of the Northgate Interchange. It is the very first public/private partnership of its kind in the state of Idaho. The Idaho Transportation Department, City of Pocatello, City of Chubbuck, Bannock County, Pocatello Development Authority and private development companies came together to plan, fund and implement this much needed transportation route. It will serve Pocatello’s new northern limits and help alleviate congestion in the Highland area.

2020 CENSUS

In 2020, you as citizens will have the chance to help our community receive more than $2,000 per person and all it will take is just 10 minutes of your time. How? By filling out your 2020 Census form.

Your responses to the Census help determine funding for things like schools, road and highway construction, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Idaho’s Small Business Development Centers, Pocatello Regional Transit, and more. All told, more than 50 federal programs are funded by your answers to the Census.

But that’s not all the Census helps with. The population and demographic data you provide helps fuel economic development.

You’ll have three ways to respond to the Census in April. New for 2020, you can respond online in addition to mail or by phone.

It’s my hope that when you see your Census form arrive, it doesn’t cause you to think, “just one more thing I have to do.” But view it as a chance to help your community get the funding it needs to prosper into the future.

 

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