Arguments For and Against Proposition 1

Proposition 1 | Library Initiative

An initiative requiring voter approval of the cost, financing, location, design, and size of certain Boise City Library Facility projects. 

Please note: The arguments below reference a "special question" measure being placed on the November ballot by the city. This "special question" measure will NOT appear on the November ballot.

Argument in Favor of Proposition One

Argument for "YES": An initiative requiring voter approval of the cost, financing, location, design and size of certain Boise City Library facility projects (Proposition One)

A vote for this initiative will require any Boise library project expected to cost $25 million or more to be placed on a ballot and approved by a simple majority of Boise voters (50 percent plus one).

If you want to express your will at the ballot box, vote yes on this initiative. If it passes, the city will have to ask for voter approval of a major library project.

Good government respects and responds to the will of the people. Boise Working Together, a grassroots group of your Boise neighbors and friends, collected thousands of signatures on a petition to require a binding vote on major library projects. Because a project of this size would change the face of our city and cost millions of taxpayer dollars, Boise citizens should be given the opportunity for a binding vote.

The right of citizens to vote before public debt is incurred is enshrined in the Idaho Constitution. Vote yes on this initiative in order to extend that right for major library projects in Boise. Vote yes on this initiative if you want the opportunity to vote for, or against, any Boise library project costing $25 million or more.


Rebuttal to Argument in Favor of Proposition One

The right to vote is a great privilege and responsibility. Voting “yes” on Proposition 1 is not “good government” as its proponents claim, and is simply not responsible.

First, Proposition 1 is unnecessary and redundant. Proposition 1 asks only for a “vote to have a vote”. The City Council has placed a special Question on this same ballot that provides the opportunity for citizens to vote directly on whether or not to proceed with the Main Library Project. That is good government.

Second, proponents of Proposition 1 refer to the Idaho Constitution’s requirement for a citizens’ vote before public debt is incurred. That requirement does not apply to the Library Project: the City’s plan does NOT include any new public debt or any new taxes.

Third, the Boise City Attorney believes Proposition 1 is illegal under the Idaho Constitution, and is likely to be challenged in court if it passes, because it addresses an administrative matter and not a legislative matter.

Finally, while Proposition 1 targets the Library Project, it also sets a bad precedent, requiring citizens to vote on an expenditure which is only 3.3% of the City’s current annual budget. If this approach persists, future propositions could require an endless parade of votes on individual budget items that would hamstring City Council’s ability to manage the City.

Argument Against Proposition One

Voters should reject Proposition 1 for the following reasons:

  1. Proposition 1 is unnecessary. Sponsors of Proposition 1 have consistently stated that their sole purpose is to create a vehicle allowing Boise citizens to vote on the proposed Main Library Project. On this same ballot, a question by Boise City Council allows voters to express directly their support or opposition to the Main Library Project. Proposition 1 does not do that. Proposition 1 merely creates a requirement for a future vote on the Library Project, even though this ballot provides for that vote.
  2. Proposition 1 may be unconstitutional. The City’s attorney has issued an opinion that Proposition 1 is illegal because it targets an administrative decision approving a budget item for the Main Library Project. Sponsors of Proposition 1 claim that it affects a broad class of “any library costing more than $25 million”, but only one library project of that magnitude is currently proposed by Boise City. If Proposition 1 were to pass and subsequently be challenged in court, the City could incur added expense and delays with an uncertain outcome. Citizens can obtain a copy of the City Attorney’s opinion by requesting it from the City Attorney’s office.
  3. Proposition 1 could significantly increase the cost of the Library Project. If Proposition 1 were to pass, the subsequent vote on the Library Project would take place in May, 2020, at the earliest. If the Library Project is ultimately approved by voters, the City has estimated that each month of delay will raise the cost of the Project by $250,000.
  4. Proposition 1 creates confusion and wasted expense. If citizens approve both Proposition 1 and the City’s question on the Library Project, there would still be a second, redundant vote on the Library Project. If in this later vote citizens again approved the Library Project, the cost of the second election will have been unnecessary. If in this later vote citizens disapproved of the Library Project, the additional planning costs incurred between the two elections would be wasted.
  5. Proposition 1 sets a bad precedent. The $25 million threshold set by Proposition 1 is approximately 3.3% of Boise City’s current annual budget. As the City grows, the threshold will become even less significant. Future propositions could target other expenditures at the same or even a lower threshold. While it is important for citizens’ voices to be heard, the election of representatives who reflect those voices is a more effective mechanism than requiring an endless series of votes on individual budget items.

In summary, citizens in favor of the Main Library Project and in favor of representative government should vote NO on Proposition 1.


Rebuttal to Argument Against Proposition One

  1. Only Proposition 1 is binding: If passed, the City Council must do what the voters say. Any other question is just advisory: The Council can ignore the voters for many election cycles.
  2. Proposition 1 is constitutional. If it passes and the City challenges it, the City is responsible for any expense and delay. The measure is an appropriate exercise of citizen legislative authority. It seeks to restore the mandate of Article VIII, Section 3 of the Idaho Constitution, which holds that a city shall not take on major indebtedness without securing the approval of voters. Unfortunately, Boise has significantly departed from that Constitutional principle recently via complex financing schemes. This initiative simplifies the issue by restoring the Constitution’s clear intent that voters must approve major projects. Its language is sound.
  3. The City could have listened to 7,000+ citizens, adopted this binding Initiative, and put the library on this November ballot. Instead, it chose to put forward language that bars voter control. Any additional expense is due to the city’s choice.
  4. Proposition 1 lets voters tell officials they do or don’t want to spend public funds on a library.

If officials want voters’ approval, they will:

  • Include all affected parties in planning
  • Create a project that meets the parties’ expressed needs
  • Avoid robbing other city services to pay for it
  • Respect The Cabin and the Anne Frank Memorial in the library’s size and siting
  • Protect trees and birds from destruction.

Vote YES to have real power!

YES on Prop OneNO on Prop One
Boise Working Together, Inc.
P.O. Box 7082
Boise, Idaho 83707

Adelia Simplot, President
Richard Llewellyn, Committee Chair

Boise Public Library Foundation
715 S. Capitol Boulevard
Boise, Idaho 83702

Beverly Harad, Chair
Michael Turner, Secretary/Treasurer

Contact Information

City of Boise Office of the City Clerk
150 N. Capitol Blvd
PO Box 500, Boise, ID 83702
(208) 972-8150
TTY: (800) 377-3529

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