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Ammon Mayor responds to letter controversy

A letter delivered through the Ammon city utility bill is causing a bit of controversy.

The letter sent by the mayor and its council members shows how passing an upcoming bond for the Bonneville School District would benefit the city. Some people and organizations feel the city is supporting the bond.

Some Ammon residents and the Idaho Freedom Foundation feel the letter crossed the line by spending money to send the letter out. They feel it’s inappropriate for a city to be involved in a political issue.

Mayor Dana Kirkham responded to the controversy Friday morning. She said the reasoning behind the letter was to educate Ammon residents and give information about the bond from the city viewpoint. She continued saying the letter “was a legitimate public purpose because we were protecting the property rights of our community. We were concerned about future development. We are concerned about job creation and just the overall health and welfare of our community. So, we feel like we’re justified in that and it’s no different than when we send out a statement and advocate to our residents to get involved in in legislative issues like the gas tax or urban renewal, this is the same kind of thing.”

Those against the letter feel it breaks the law because of an Idaho Supreme Court decision between Ameritel and the Greater Boise Auditorium District. The court determined the auditorium district couldn’t use its public funds to support a bond.

Because of that decision, those who feel the letter stepped over the line think the city leaders should pay the money back.

Mayor Kirkham believes the two cases are different. She said the auditorium district case involved the use of district funds to get a direct financial gain. Whereas in Ammon, there is no financial gain. “We feel like this this was justified because we were trying to say to our instance more than anything else this is an educational piece look, take a look at it, be informed and more than anything go and vote,” she said.

Mayor Kirkham said the mailing cost the city $218.66. “This council takes their responsibility very seriously and they are great stewards of the tax dollars and I think they’re very careful about how they use them and there is no one on the council that would use it for personal gain.”

The $55.3 bond issue for the Bonneville School District is up for a vote on November 3rd.

The bond is two parts, the first part asking to build a new high school. The second part asking to build a new auditorium and football stadium with the new high school if it is approved.

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