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Celebrate Meridian: Silverstone

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Over the last year, many have anxiously watched the southeast corner skyline of Eagle and Overland Roads transform as one of Meridian’s newest buildings, the Silverstone Corporate Plaza, takes shape.  This incredibly elegant building gives us another reason to celebrate all that we have going on in Meridian and in our business parks.

 

Not so long ago, commercial business parks were developed as dry, bland rows of boxy warehouse-style buildings connected by meandering dead-end streets and parking lots.  No personality; no style.  Today, Meridian’s business parks don’t just break that old stereotype… they shatter it!

 

Within the 170-acre Silverstone Business Park, large employers such as Power Engineers, Citi, Intermountain Orthopedics, AmeriBen/IEC Group, Bodybuilding.com, Idaho Athletic Club, Sage Diagnostics and Imaging, T-Mobile, Neurological Associates, and Academy Mortgage to name a few, share the grounds with a variety of retail, dining, service, and lodging providers.  Whether you are looking for sushi from Sakana Japanese Sushi and Steak Hours or would like to try a “staycation” at the Candlewood Suites Hotel, you can do it all in Silverstone.

 

Silverstone’s developer, The Sundance Company, has created a balanced, multi-functional business environment, and has found ways to include many of the “nice-ities” that make going to work or doing business a more pleasant experience.  From attractive landscaping to cutting-edge amenities such as the concierge services available to tenants of the new Corporate Plaza, the development’s thoughtful design and aesthetically-pleasing appearance are sure to go far in continuing to attract economically-vibrant tenants to this business park and our community.

 

We have many other great examples of thriving business parks and mixed-use areas in Meridian – some in planning phases, some under construction, and some completed – including El Dorado, Portico, Gramercy Park, Paramount, Bridgetower, Meridian Town Center, and the Tree Farm.  Over the next few months I look forward to sharing information with you about new tenants, buildings, and amenities that are coming to Meridian in one of these business parks or other parts of our community.

 

In the meantime, I would invite you to join me at my next early-morning “Coffee with the Mayor” gathering, to be held December 2nd in the new Silverstone Corporate Plaza.  It starts at 8:00 am and goes until 9:30 am, and will be catered by Moxie Java located just a stone’s throw away from the new building.  I look forward to seeing this incredible new asset in our community that will surely be one more reason for employers to consider locating at the Silverstone Business Campus.

 

If you would like to share information about why your business is located in Meridian, a change that we will be seeing in the future, or a business that makes you proud to part of our community, email me at MayorTammy@meridiancity.org.  Together we can celebrate all we have in Meridian – a premier city to live, work, and raise a family.

Crime Reporting

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As a citizen of the City of Meridian, being aware of what’s going on in your community is the best way to stand up against those committing crimes in your area. One way that Meridian citizens can now do this is by checking this website for their local crime statistics. For years Meridian Police have posted reports on local crime data and we are excited to introduce a new quarterly report which includes information on crime, traffic, collisions and calls for service.

 

In previous monthly reports we found that by citizens only viewing crimes on a month by month basis, they are not able to see the “the big picture” of what is going on in Meridian over time. Crime and police incidents can be affected by many things including but not limited to weather, road work, school schedules and serial offenders. These many variables can cause small spikes or lows in a particular crime type that may not provide an accurate picture of the city’s crime. Examples of this would be an increase in juvenile crimes in the summer when children are out of school, a series of a particular crime committed by a single offender or an increase in road rage incidents surrounding an area of heavy road work. The examples above are only a few of the causes of monthly highs and lows in Meridian crime.

 

The Meridian Police Department’s new quarterly report provides a look at five years of crime data breaking this information down by type and year for each quarter. Viewing crime this way over several years provides us with a more realistic view of crime trends in Meridian.  By viewing the number of incidents in this way we are able to put the numbers into a much clearer perspective. After learning about the number of these crimes occurring, you may want to also check our crime mapping section for a closer look at your reporting district and/or neighborhood. These crime mapping and crime data tools are the same tools used by our department when we make strategic changes to our approach to crime reports and trends in various parts of the city for patrol, and crime prevention efforts.

 

Learning about the types of crimes occurring in our area can be a big step towards implementing crime prevention techniques and reducing your chance of becoming a victim of crime. Encourage neighbors to participate in programs such as neighborhood watch and discuss the crime in your area.  By educating ourselves in prevention strategies, we are less likely to become a victim and better able to help a neighbor if they become a victim of a crime. Resources on crime prevention including our new quarterly report can be found under the crime prevention/crime analysis section of this website. We hope you will take the time to check it out and provide us with your feedback!

Deferral of Impact Fees in Down Economy

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As an effort to help stimulate non-residential development in the City of Meridian, our City Council elected to temporarily waive the requirement for payment of Police and Fire Impact Fees from June 3rd to September 30th, 2009.  During this period, there were 17 new commercial building starts that took advantage of the waiver, saving them a total of $83,657.  Although these impact fees make up only a small portion of the overall permitting costs for a new commercial development, the effort was viewed by many in the industry as a goodwill gesture in the right direction.

Celebrate Meridian Community Thanksgiving

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Over the last several months I have written on Meridian assets as a community to celebrate.  I’ve highlighted our great parks, blue ribbon education system, senior artists, and new restaurants to name a few things.  Our business industries are starting to see growth and small businesses are supporting one another.  With Thanksgiving quickly approaching I felt it would be timely to speak about what Meridian has to be thankful for. 

 

While all of these are reasons to give thanks, I am most proud of Meridian’s sense of community.  “Community” isn’t something that can be manufactured with buildings, parks, schools or roads.  While these are important components of any city, Meridian is comprised of individuals and families, volunteers, and those who are striving to create a great place to live, work, and raise a family. 

 

We care about one another and are vested in the success of our neighbors as well as our own families.  Meridian’s volunteer spirit rings loud.  Businesses like WalMart and the Fred Kesler Agency who were last week recognized as two of Idaho’s Brightest Stars by Governor and Mrs. Otter, and individuals like Mark Bennett and Angela Lindig all dedicate part of their lives to serving Meridian and building our community.

 

City’s are also defined by their events; the numerous opportunities we have to celebrate together.  Annual events like Meridian Dairy Days, Chili Cook Off, Christmas Tree Lighting/, Winter Land Parade, and Meridian Symphony that provide occasions to meet new friends and truly celebrate Meridian. 

 

One community event many of you may not be aware of is our annual Community Thanksgiving Celebration hosted by Valley Shepherd Church of the Nazarene.  This annual event invites people from all faiths to celebrate all that we in Meridian have to be thankful for.  This is another one of our great community events that allows us to come together for a night of songs, prayer and community celebration.  This is a special occasion and one to be celebrated.  I encourage you to join me and others from the community for this event on Sunday, November 22nd, from 6:00-7:00 pm.

 

While Meridian continues to evolve as a dairy community, we uphold the values that were important to those before us that make Meridian unique.  If you have something in our community that we need to celebrate this holiday season, I want to hear about it.  Email me MayorTammy@MeridianCity.org.  Together we can Celebrate Meridian and all the people who make our community a premiere place to live, work, and raise a family.

 

 

Park Development and Urban Forestry in Meridian

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The City’s vision statement states that, “Meridian is a vibrant community whose vision is to be a premier city to live, work, and raise a family.”  The quality of our park system is a reflection of this vision statement. The department staff is responsible for working with architects, the Planning Department, the Building Department, Public Works, ACHD, and other agencies to design and build the best park facilities possible.  I appreciate this opportunity to highlight several items related to both parks and forestry in the City of Meridian.

 

Land Purchases

There are several criteria for land purchases, including available funds, site location, available City utilities, topography, and irrigation water rights.  Funds have been set aside over the years from the general fund and park impact fees to be able to purchase land when it becomes available.  When I began my employment with the City of Meridian in 2000, there were about 32 acres of developed park land. Over the years the system has grown to almost 190 developed acres, thanks to developer land donations and wise purchases of land by City Council.  We currently have 119 acres waiting for development, and we will receive an additional 60-acre developed park from the Julius M. Kleiner family when it is completed.

 

Construction Standards

When I came to work for the Parks Department, the staff had some construction standards already in place. We have sat down together many times and updated the standards as our park system has matured. These standards help to increase the efficiency of park maintenance.  For example, we have several sizes of restroom plans that have been developed to stand the test of time.  While many infrastructure elements have been standardized from park to park, we are also working hard to provide features in each park that will give them a unique identity.

 

From Design to Finish Product

Here is a simplified version of how parks are developed:  To begin, we contract with a landscape architect to gather ideas from staff and work through the essential needs for the new park. The first things to be evaluated are access points for water, sewer, power, and site drainage. The architect meets with the Planning Department and Public Works to obtain their feedback and direction so that the information gathered can become part of the construction documents.

 

At the same time, meetings with parks staff and the landscape architect are held to start the design layout of the park, which includes the surface irrigation system, placement of restrooms, playgrounds, any sports fields, parking lots, and other significant features.  The landscape architect coordinates with ACHD to receive approval for street entrances to the park. The parks staff will also work with the building architect to create construction documents for restrooms or other structures and help ensure they are designed to park standards.  The staff and the architect will meet with developers regarding neighborhood parks if the park involves a partnership or donation.

 

As the design work continues, the preliminary plans are brought forward by the landscape architect to the Parks & Recreation Commission meetings for comment. The Parks & Recreation Director schedules a time to present the plans for the new park to City Council for comments and approval.

 

Over several months all of the items listed above become part of a set of construction document plans that will be used for bidding purposes.  A Scope of Work with cost estimates for construction is provided by the landscape architect. These numbers are included into the budget for the next fiscal year.  Upon budget approval of funds, the project will be bid for construction the following year.

 

Urban Forestry

Urban Forestry is gradually changing and becoming more sophisticated in the City of Meridian.  There are now around 1,200 trees in the park system with another 800 or so to come on line with Kleiner Park and the new Specimen Tree Arboretum located at that site.  I am currently working on an inventory of park trees with the use of a GIS (Geographic Information System) tree management software program.  This will be valuable information for years to come. We will be able to determine the number of trees in the system and keep up-to-date maintenance records, as well as be able to identify new potential tree planting sites.  We will also be able to quantify the value of our urban forest.

 

Over the years I have been fortunate to work with developers and architects on new construction sites to help preserve existing trees or mitigate for those that need to be removed.  The City’s landscape ordinance has helped to ensure trees are planted during development.  It has also been interesting for me to visit with citizens when they call about tree-related problems. People have been very appreciative of the service given to them by the city in which they live.

 

Meridian is growing and maturing into the Hub of the Treasure Valley, and I am grateful to have been involved in its growth, especially, as related to park development and urban forestry.

 

 

Celebrate Meridian: Veterans

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This past Saturday my husband and I were fortunate to spend time with many of our veterans as we participated in the Veterans Day parade.  It was great to see Meridian’s own American Legion Post 113 lead the parade with our nation’s colors.  Overall this was an awe inspiring event, well attended, and I was privileged to have participated with our veterans and supporters of the Treasure Valley.

 

The story is often told about how our nation’s veterans are only recognized one day out of the year despite what they give to us daily.  Whether they are serving at home or abroad, veterans sacrifice so much for the freedoms and privileges we have grown accustom to, or take for granted.  As a country and a community it is important that we take the time on Veteran’s Day – regardless of how busy we are – to stop, take notice, and thank our current armed service men and women for their commitment, and honor those who have served before them.

 

In addition to serving our country in various roles while on active duty, many of our veterans take an active role right here in Meridian.  Upon returning home many go on to serve locally in organizations such as the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (more commonly the VFW), and related women’s auxiliary groups.  These organizations take a proactive stance in educating our youth.  From serving as mentors, funding youth organizations, to participating in events like Boy’s and Girl’s State; these groups are ensuring that our next generation of leaders have the skills and education to succeed.

 

With our veterans doing so much in our community, I love seeing our community take the opportunity to celebrate them - our active military and veterans.  This past Friday, Heritage Auto offered free oil changes to veterans and families of active duty service members.  On Wednesday, November 11th, the local Applebee’s will be offering a free meal for any veteran or active member of our military.  In additionally the Metro Express Car wash will offer a free wash to any veteran or active member.  These are just a few examples of what is taking place in our community on this day.  I know there are many more businesses that find ways to honor our veterans; with some offering year-round discounts. 

 

I encourage all of our community to take Veterans Day as an opportunity to thank and honor our men and women that have, and will continue to defend our freedoms.  I know that I will!  If you know a veteran that needs to be recognized, send me an email at MayorTammy@MeridianCity.org.  Together we can Celebrate Meridian and all the people that make our community a premiere place to live, work, and raise a family.

 

 

Design Review Award

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On October 9, 2009, at the annual conference of the Idaho Chapter of the American Planning Association, the Meridian Planning Department received an Award of Merit for Planning Excellence for the Meridian Design Manual. The American Planning Association is the nations preeminent planning organization. It is an educational organization that provides leadership and resources directed toward building better communities by advocating excellence in community planning, citizen involvement and providing tools and resources to help communities address growth and change. The Idaho Chapter has over 240 members comprised of professional planners, volunteer planning commissioners, elected officials and academics.

 

The Design Manual was adopted by the Meridian City Council in February 2009. Recognizing the importance of quality design in the urban fabric, the Mayor and City Council charged the Planning Department with developing both a design review process and guidelines to be applied citywide. Design review was not new in the city; however, it had limited applicability to certain locations and/or projects over a certain size.

 

In their charge, the Council expressed their desire to establish a process that was largely administrative, flexible and reliant upon guidelines rather than strict, prescriptive standards.  The result was an innovative and unique approach to design review as an element of the City’s development review process. 

 

The manual focuses on establishing important design relationships between sites, buildings, and surrounding uses. The design guidelines work together establishing these relationships and reinforcing the guiding principles in the manual.

The City’s tagline is “Built for Business Designed for Living”. As the Meridian Design Manual states “Design, in terms of the physical and visual characteristics of development, is an integral part in the creation of an attractive, livable and vibrant community.

 

The Meridian Planning Department is proud of the recognition bestowed on the City by our peers,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

City Accounting 101

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I have found Governmental accounting to be more complex than private enterprise.  With a private company there is usually only one type of business such as manufacturing a product or providing a particular service.  With the City of Meridian we have a variety of services for our citizens such as Police, Fire, Planning, Recreation and Inspections.  Then we have internal service departments such as Finance, Information Technology, Legal, City Clerk and Human Resources.  Not only does the City provide services but they also provide Water, Sewer and Trash for 77,000 citizens.  Plus the City owns and maintains a variety of parks, stations, pathways and buildings.   With this many functions and departments we have a complex coding system to make sure we track the funds and expenses with the correct department, fund or function. 

 

Internally our departments like to use multiple division codes to breakdown their budgets and track the different functions inside of each department.  Such as:

 

The Police Department consists of administrative services, patrol, records, criminal investigators, school resource officers, community outreach, code enforcement and animal control.

 

The Fire Department consists of administrative services, fire inspections, safety education and five separate stations.

 

The Parks Department consists of administrative services, recreation classes, sports leagues, special events, and parks maintenance.

 

Development Services consists of the building permit services, city planners, inspectors, and economic development for the city.

 

Public Works consists of administrative services, engineers, inspectors, transportation coordinator, environmental staff, water and sewer operators.

 

Administration for the city consists of Mayor and 4 councilman, support staff, finance, legal, human resources, clerk staff, maintenance, network and programming staff.

 

The City has many funding sources with the first being taxes (property and sales taxes) that fund the Police, Fire, Parks and Planning departments.  This fund is our General Fund and in the accounting world is also called a Governmental Fund.  We than have chosen to separate our Development Services Fund but it is still a Governmental Fund.  This fund tracks our building permit revenues along with our development service expenses.  During the growth years this revenue has exceeded our development expenses and allowed the City to save what we call the Fund Balance that was later used to help build the new City Hall.  Our third funding source is our water, sewer and trash fees that fund Public Works, our Enterprise Fund or the Proprietary Fund.  This fund operates in the same way as private enterprise, no tax revenue only user fees to pay for day to day operations and some assessment fees to pay for expanding the water and sewer services.

 

As you can see Finance has to compile and track multiple funds, departments, divisions, account codes and project codes for a variety of services.  We find it challenging and rewarding and we welcome any public requests and inquiries.  Accounting people actually get excited when someone wants to learn and understand some of the reports we create.  Our door is always open please stop by or call if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.  Much of what we do is provide information for you.

 


 

Celebrate Meridian: Elections

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On Tuesday Meridian’s citizens will have the opportunity to cast their vote for two of our City Council seats.  The election process and act of casting your vote are the essence of our Republic.  All citizens have a right to vote and all citizens can make their case to lead.  I am proud to say we live in a country where the people choose their leaders; they take these actions freely.  As well, any citizen can run for elected office regardless of race, gender, or religious affiliation.  This is and will continue to be something worth celebrating in our country.

 

Today, many parts of the world are ruled by dictatorships and live under laws that prevent people from having the freedom of choice.  I am proud that our country places so much emphasis on democracy and that our brave soldiers are fighting to defend.

 

Ensuring proper checks and balances is important to maintain the public’s best interests.  This is important and relevant at every level of government, from federal and state, all the way to our local level in Meridian.  As Mayor and the City’s administrator/manager, it is my elected duty to facilitate the policies, procedures, and laws.  These policies are established by vote of four City Council members who help ensure that those elected are representing the values, ideas, and plans of a community.  In fact, some of you may not be aware that as Mayor the only time I can vote during a City Council meeting is in the event of a tie, which can happen on occasion.

 

I’d like to commend our candidates for City Council for their participation and wish them well come election night.  Each candidate has been active in the election process and now relies on the public to participate in the process as well.  I encourage you to get out and vote, Tuesday, November 3rd.  You’ll not only be participating in the process, you’ll be reaffirming the values our forefathers fought valiantly for.

 

For more information, visit the election section of our website.  This will allow you to locate your precinct’s polling place which could be different than where you vote in the county, state, and federal elections.  You will also find a sample ballot and, perhaps, answer other questions you may have about the process.  Please visit the following link for this information (http://tinyurl.com/ykyod8l). 

 

There is always the option to contact the City Clerk’s Office directly at (208) 888-4433 or email me at mayortammy@meridiancity.org.  Together we can Celebrate Meridian and all that makes our community a premiere place to live, work, and raise a family.  Please exercise your right, and freedom, to vote tomorrow.


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33 E. Broadway Ave., Meridian, Idaho 83642  |  208.888.4433 (Click link above to view map)