BOISE — Mayor Lauren McLean is making some spending changes in order to focus on economic development and affordable housing.
On Tuesday, Boise City Council approved several interim budget changes for the current fiscal year to move funds around in the budget to do additional projects or hire staff that was not originally budgeted. This includes some new positions focusing on housing, as well as resources for economic recovery.
The city will be spending $100,000 from the operating contingency fund to pay for the creation of an economic development strategic plan “to build long term economic opportunity and resilience.” It will be available in spring 2021. There were no details in the budget change if the plan is being developed by city staff or if an outside consultant will be hired.
McLean also proposed hiring two new staff members to coordinate the city’s affordable housing projects. Both positions would cost the city roughly $100,000 per year, which would be funded out of the city’s reserve dedicated to its Grow Our Housing program.
One position would be a Strategic Housing Manager for the mayor’s office to coordinate strategy on housing policy and the city’s coordinated entry program for homelessness. The other position would be a housing manager in the Planning & Development Services department to manage city affordable housing projects and work on the city’s proposed housing land trust.
An additional staffer will also be added to the mayor’s office to focus on transportation issues, but this position will be transferred from Planning & Development Services so it is not new spending.
During the meeting, City Council President Elaine Clegg asked about the cost of adding these positions. McLean said after salary negotiations and cutting other costs from the mayor’s office budget, the addition of these new positions will only result in between $10,000 and $15,000 additional cost.
The city also received $839,740 from the federal government’s COVID-19 assistance package. These funds will be used to support a variety of staffing at local organizations, including:
- Women’s and Children’s Alliance: up to two additional case managers for the crisis hotline
- Boys and Girls Club: additional daycare locations
- CATCH: up to two additional case managers to house persons experiencing homelessness
- Terry Reilly: case manager for Allumbaugh House
- NeighborWorks Boise: mortgage assistance for up to three months