Paul Kimmel

(candidate for 2002 Latah County Commissioner, district 1)

1. Do you support the completion of the Latah Trail?
Latah Trail: I have supported the Latah Trail project since I became commissioner in 1999. Much of the credit for the progress of the trail project must go to Commissioner Stauber and the efforts of the Latah Trail Foundation who recently presented the county with a check in the amount of $12,000. By leveraging a modest amount of local monies (property taxes and LTF donations) against federal dollars ($495,000) we should have a significant amount of the trail completed. Under Phase 1 of the project, we should have all reversionary interests acquired, paving to Eastman Acres and paving west from Troy for approximately one mile as well. This will leave about six miles undeveloped from Joel to about one mile west of Troy. Future grant monies as well as continued private financial support will provide the necessary funds to complete the paving and possibly provide ongoing funding for maintenance and operation. There are some who argue we should not be using tax monies on a project which may not directly benefit them. I believe the Latah Trail will be an important attribute and serve many residents and visitors of Latah County. These are exactly the sort of amenities which businesses and prospective residents look for in a community. This will also serve as an important link between the communities of Troy and Moscow and alleviate safety concerns for bikers along Hwy 8. There are several challenges which remain ahead of us. We must successfully complete negotiations with several different landowners for their property interests. We must be steadfast in addressing their concerns for protecting existing access points into farmland, help alleviate possible trail user/farmer conflicts, respect existing agricultural practices and provide necessary screening near residences. I am encouraged by the level of support for this project by many Latah County residents.

2. What is the county's appropriate role at the Latah Health Center?
Latah Health Services: In 1957, Latah County built the first licensed nursing home in Idaho. At that time, the county was responding to a serious need for a safe, caring and suitable facility for our elderly residents. Shortly thereafter, a non-profit corporation was formed to operate and manage the facility with a Board comprised of local Latah County residents, now known as Latah Health Services, Inc.(LHS). Latah County retains ownership of the facility but does not participate in the day to day operation of LHS. The County leases the facility to LHS for one dollar per year and provides some modest annual maintenance funding to LHS for repairs to the building as set forth in the lease agreement. The present lease expires in September 2004. Recently, a Needs Assessment was completed on the building to help us identify possible structural, electrical, HVAC, and other life safety issues. The report did in fact identify some deficiencies both in short-term critical and long term necessary. The estimated cost to address these problems has been estimated at between $350,000 to $1.5 million. Given the importance to take some quick corrective action on several critical needs, the commissioners are addressing these immediately. Much discussion has taken place between the commissioners, LHS, other nursing facilities and county residents as to the future of the facility and the LHS relationship. I will be the first to admit I don't have an easy solution. I will admit however, the County has historically done a very mediocre job of maintaining the facility due in large part to the fluctuations of commissioners and their priorities and the availability of funds from the budget. Recently communications have improved and we hope to begin constructive dialogue to find a solution. There are several options which are under discussion by the commissioners and LHS. These include: 1) Continue with the present arrangement and go to the voters with a facilities bond for an estimated $1.5 million dollars to make the necessary repairs; 2) Charge fair market rent to LHS instead of the present arrangement of $1 per year; 3) Sell the facility to LHS and remove the County from any interest in the operation or the building; 4) Sell the facility to another nursing home like Good Samaritan or Aspen Park; 5) Sell the facility period and let the other facilities absorb the displaced residents. Given the important historical relationship between LHS and the County, there is no easy answer. I am concerned that any discussion about possible changes to the present arrangement be sensitive to both the residents and the employees of LHS. We are dealing with many peoples lives, jobs and futures. . LHS has recently hired a new CEO, Rob Redford, and he will need a few months to get his bearings. Over the course of the next few months the commissioners and LHS will meet to discuss these possible options and strategies. In the meantime, we will address some immediate needs and safety issues at LHS.

3. How can the county solve the problem of the shortage of space for county
Courthouse Space Needs: Serious space and parking shortages at the courthouse have existed for some time now. The original courthouse was constructed in 1957 and the Law Enforcement wing was completed in the mid 70's. Recently, the commissioners have considered a modest expansion of the existing structure to accommodate some of the more acute space shortages. An architect was engaged to help us look at estimated space requirements, provide some preliminary designs and help estimate costs. At this point, we are projecting a need for approximately 15,000 sqft of new office space at a cost of roughly $2.2 million dollars. It is anticipated this expansion would serve the County's needs for the next 20 years. Concurrently, the commissioners have successfully acquired some adjacent properties and are in the final design phase and preliminary construction stage of a new 50 stall parking lot immediately east of the courthouse. We hope to be operational by late fall on the parking lot. All but two trees will remain intact on the site. This additional parking will provide our citizens with more available parking during busy times at the courthouse. I have also for some time been exploring other possible solutions for our space shortages including shared facilities (1912 Building) and possible leased space (old Sears building at Eastside, GTE building downtown). I am very supportive of shared facilities and would welcome discussions with the city of Moscow about possibilities including shared facilities for 911 and shared emergency dispatch. There are some merits however, in keeping certain government functions centralized for efficiency and security and I would want to be careful with any other possible options. I believe the present direction of the commissioners in looking at an expansion of the existing courthouse addresses our space shortages in a fiscally responsible manner. I also believe we will continue to provide more and more services online to the public including obtaining building permits, paying your taxes or traffic ticket, marriage licenses, passports, recording deeds or accessing public records via websites. We also hope to continue downsizing the amount of physical paper work generated and utilize software to digitally record and preserve many of our public records thereby alleviating some of the need for additional space.

4. Should Moscow's area of impact be expanded or contracted? What is the best way to balance preserving farmland with the demand for rural homesites?
City Area of Impact: I had the pleasure of serving on the Latah County Planning and Zoning Commission during the 1993 negotiations with the city of Moscow for an Area of Impact agreement. These agreements are intended to help cities better manage growth occurring immediately outside their jurisdictional boundaries. By helping shape the design of these developments they are more willing to absorb them into the city's infrastructure once they are annexed in to the city. In theory, these agreements can serve as reasonable tools to help municipalities plan for future growth and help them manage their destiny so to speak. In reality, they work to some degree. Recent technological advances (GIS geographical information systems) at the courthouse have provided us with additional tools to better understand the issues. When placed in a geographical context, both the community and the policy makers can better see the relationship between the problems and solutions. I've realized that much of what happens in a public policy context also happens in a geographic one. This is the case with the Moscow Area of Impact. Through our GIS technology, we have determined the city of Moscow roughly encompasses 4000 acres at present while the surrounding Area of Impact includes approximately 10,000 acres or 2.5 times larger than the city. We were also able to measure the growth of the city from 1993 to present to see if the Area of Impact was a reasonable size or not in proportion to the growth rate of the city. In my opinion, we should probably do some adjusting of the present Area of Impact to better reflect reality. Over the course of the next few months we will be meeting with the Moscow City Council and P&Z to begin a renegotiation of the Area of Impact agreement. In addition, a recent Idaho State Supreme Court case (Blaha) requires many cities and counties to modify their agreement review processes and place final authority for development approval with the county commissioners. As to the second part of this question regarding farmland protection, the best tool for protecting Palouse farmland is a strong federal farm program, strong export markets and reasonable property taxes. By protecting our operating farms we will protect our county's farmland. Both the cities and county need to encourage more creative planning and zoning, cluster developments, smaller rural homesites on less acreage and more flexibility as to where these homesite can be placed below the ridgelines.

5. Is it important to you to connect with voters (answer questions and receive input) via email? Do you plan to subscribe to Moscow Vision 2020 if elected? Do you plan to post messages to Moscow Vision 2020 if elected?
I presently use email and online communications whenever possible. I am a strong supporter of e-government (when affordable) and hope to provide more "online" not "in line" services at the county level. Technology has a price however. I also will continue to support efforts to wire the rural parts of Latah County. I believe the technology presently exists to provide wireless links to all our rural communities providing them generous bandwidth and a possible economic development tool. I presently subscribe to Vision 2020 but must confess I am not an active participant. I do use the information posted quite often.

6. What book(s) are you now reading?
Most of my reading pleasure comes from history and geography books and watching my children read. I am presently reading An Incomplete Education by Judy Jones and William Wilson. I also am working through a great series of Christian History books written by J.C. Ryle and published by Charles Nolan Publishers of Moscow.

7. Add your email address and any biographical information you wish.
Reside on the family farm in Viola. Married for 18 years to Constance Kimmell. Three children ages 16, 13 and 10. Owner of Grazing Hills Alpacas. Presently serving as a Latah County Commissioner since 1999. Also serve as Executive Director of the Moscow Chamber of Commerce. Formerly held positions with Boise Cascade Corporation, Wyoming State Land Office and Chief Title Officer of Security Title Guarantee in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I serve on numerous boards and commissions including Chairman of the Idaho Association of Counties District II, Juvenile Detention Advisory Board for District II, Magistrate Commission, and the Local Emergency Planning Council. Former board member of the Idaho Conservation League and Chairman of the Latah County Planning Commission.

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to this questionnaire. Thank you also for allowing me to serve as your county commissioner. Respectfully,Paul J. Kimmell Planning Commission.

Return to the Election page