Canyon County needs an extra $7 million next year to cover “jail overcrowding, health insurance costs for employees, and increased need for county services due to growth.”
Nampa is asking to increase sewer rates by 16.75% and water rates by 9%.
Boise is looking at plans for a new library that will cost $103 million.
Caldwell just celebrated the opening of the $7.3 million Indian Creek Plaza.
Idaho prison officials say $500 million is needed for a new penitentiary.
And schools? Expect discussion of building plans after trustees see fall enrollment numbers.
Don’t miss the irony here. Much of the added cost comes from continuing growth and much of the added growth is due to Idaho’s low cost of living.
In 2016 Nampa was honored as one of the 10 best U.S. cities to live in–three golf courses, 27 public parks, an 140,000 square-foot recreation center, AND an average house price of $110,000. What’s not to love?
Now Zillow estimates the average house value in Nampa as $195,500; Trulia states the average price of houses for sale is $260,548. (I kick myself knowing that the Caldwell house I sold in 2013 for $105,000 is now valued at $173,000. I could have rented it out.)
Right now people are moving into the valley at the rate of three per day. Will they keep coming if our cost of living continues to rise?
About a third of the newcomers are retirees. Cost of living must be a deciding factor for some; others plan to join friends and relatives who’ve moved to Idaho previously.
And some come for the great outdoors or the weather. (A couple from Florida once wrote me that they set out to find a place without hurricanes, flooding or tornadoes, and moved to Idaho. No, they hadn’t experienced “winter” yet.)
I imagine much of the other two-thirds of the newcomers are attracted by an unemployment rate hovering just under three percent. The current national rate–just under four percent–has already triggered interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve Bank which tends to regard all wage increases–even those tied to increases in productivity–as inflationary
A recent feature in Forbes–a magazine noted for its coverage of Wall Street and corporate success stories–discussed six reasons why wages haven’t gone up significantly for decades. The sixth reason was that unemployment only looks low. Many pushed into self-employment by the recession of 2009 may be ready to lessen their uncertainty, working hours, and struggles with health insurance when offered the right wage.
Now Idaho has a great cycle going with willing workers attracting business expansion and business expansion attracting willing workers.
Just look at the news from the last few weeks. Paylocity’s new building in Meridian will allow it to expand from 200 employees to 450. Idaho Central Credit Union plans a new call center on 50 acres by the Eagle exit. A new 850,000 square-foot warehouse is planned at the Midland and Star intersection in north Nampa. And Caldwell is looking into a downtown development combining hotel, residence and commercial space.
When capitalism benefits everyone, it is great. Expect government, though, to spend more on services that benefit the community–water, sewer, roads, schools, libraries, police, fire protection. And expect the cost of maintaining a safety net to increase as the cost of living goes up and to decrease as more get decent pay and health care..
It’s a great time to be in Idaho–especially if you already own your home.
Note this editorial by Judy Ferro published by Idaho Press – 2018