NAMPA — The strength of Nampa, Mayor Tom Dale said in his State of the City address, is its people.
Standing before the Nampa Chamber of Commerce Wednesday afternoon, Dale told stories of Nampans who have made a difference in the community. Kids and adults, city workers and private sector employees, established business leaders and those who only recently pulled themselves up with the help of the community.
All of them, Dale told those assembled, help make Nampa the community it is today.
“I could stand up here and tell you stories for three hours, but you would all leave,” he said with a laugh. “An important question we should be asking ourselves is this: Is Nampa the kind of place people want to live? And the answer is a resounding ‘yes.’”
New building projects are up, Dale said, and unemployment is down. He cited the city’s November 2012 unemployment rate — 7.6 percent — the lowest it’s been in six years.
Crime is down 6 percent in the last year, he said. And drive-by shootings — frighteningly common in Nampa 12 years ago — are nearly unheard of now. This was made possible not only by investing in Nampa’s own police department, but by partnering with other local, state and federal law enforcement communities throughout the valley.
Dale stressed that although the city is moving in the right direction, challenges still loom in its future. Like many other communities throughout the country, Nampa must conform to new federal wastewater and stormwater requirements — and finding the funds is an ongoing concern.
But as the city faces these challenges, Dale continued, it’s finding solutions. Nampa officials recently got judicial approval for a low-interest Idaho Department of Environmental Quality loan to help fund wastewater improvements — a move that will save ratepayers $7.5 million.
And every step forward the city takes, he said, is because of the community as a whole. He pointed out that while Kobe Bryant may be one of the best basketball players in the game today, his team isn’t winning games — and that’s not what Dale wants for Nampa. He wants everybody to get involved, he said, and help guide the city into the future.
“A strong, cohesive team wins the game, not a single exceptional player,” he said. “So keep those ideas coming!”
TWO NEW COUNCIL SEATS?
Among Dale’s ideas for Nampa’s near future, he said in his address Wednesday, are the creation of two new council seats. Idaho state code allows for either four or six council members, and the city has stuck with the smaller number since its founding over a century ago.
But as the second largest city in the state, he said, perhaps it’s time for Nampa to look at adding a couple more. It’s a multi-part process: First, the City Council would have to create the new positions. Then, in the next election, those seats would be available to candidates.
Caldwell has six council members, as does Boise. Meridian, Nampa’s nearest neighbor to the east and a possible contender for Idaho’s No. 2 population spot in the near future, still has four.